The director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Engineer Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja, has been breaching Public Procurement Act by awarding contracts to companies that do not meet legal requirements and non existing companies, the House of Representatives has discovered.
This disclosure was made at the resumed investigative public hearing organised by the committee on the violation of public trust in National Emergency Management Agency.
The lawmakers noted that documents before the committee which were made available to the director general in the hearing, clearly showed that majority of the companies approved by the agency to undergo contracts were in breach of the Procurement Act to the extent that one of the companies, Three Brothers, is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
They also discovered from documents presented to the committee by the National Pension Commission that most of the companies were defaulters in remittance of pension, defaulters in tax payment as submitted by the Federal Inland Revenue Service to the committee, and do not operate ITF.
Furthermore, the committee observed that the DG of NEMA had been exceeding his approval limit for contracts without due approval by the presidency.
Speaking in his defense, NEMA DG presented a Certificate of No Objection obtained from the Bureau Of Public Procurement (BPP) as proof that all due process procedures were followed before the contracts were awarded.
This, however, was rejected by members of the Committee who explained that there are documents that clearly show the breaches in question whose authenticity have not been contested, and therefore, the BPP must have cleared the contracts in error.
The lawmakers also expressed reservation over the exemption of the director general in the suspension of personnel of the agency over allegations of corruption.
They said it was puzzling that the director general, who was also listed among the list of people allegedly involved in corrupt activities and defrauding Nigerians, has been allowed to continue superintending over the affairs of the agency.
The committee noted that due to the absence of the suspended personnel, especially the director of Finance and accounts, certain information required by the House will not be available, and therefore, the DG must appear with them for tomorrow’s hearing.
Going further, they questioned the speed with which the affected staff were suspended based on a report purportedly emanating from the governing council of NEMA is questionable because the council was inaugurated on the 3rd of April, considered the report of the EFCC on corruption allegations on the same day and recommended the suspension of the director of Finance and Accounts; acting director, Special Duties; deputy director, Welfare; director, Disaster Risk; head of Special Air Operation Unit and the chief maintenance officer.
Out of all the suspended staff, the Finance and Accounts director was immediately replaced by the DG who requested the BPP to send a replacement. The replacement resumed the next day after the suspension.
Other areas which the committee made disclosures include the failure of the agency to respond swiftly to emergencies across the country even after receiving funds for relief materials for affected persons, the House of Representatives has discovered. It took a range of 6 months to one year for people and communities who were in emergency situations to get relief from NEMA, even in many cases where funds were readily available.
This followed the inability of Engineer Maihaja to explain why after receiving N1.6 billion from the federal government for emergency relief in July 2017 for flood victims, the agency failed to provide relief materials to affected people and areas until December, 2017, six months after the incidents took place in 16 states across the country, when it started distribution.