How NEMA wasted N414m rice donated by China for IDPs—Reps
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
No fewer than 162,696 bags of rice worth N414 million, donated by the Chinese government to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, for distribution to internally-displaced persons, IDPs, are currently rotting away in the agency’s warehouse.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, released pictures of the product, barely 24 hours after the House of Representatives Committee probing the alleged misappropriation of N33 billion by NEMA and the approval of N5.8 billion for the agency by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, submitted its report.
Special Adviser on Media to the Speaker, Turaki Hassan, who released the pictures on his principal’s behalf yesterday, said: “The rice, which NEMA refused to distribute to IDPs in Adamawa and Taraba states, was donated by the Chinese government in aid of the displaced persons.
“As a result of NEMA’s action, the rice has expired and unfit for human consumption.”
The House of Representatives has also called for the retrieval of N800 million, which NEMA claimed it spent on demurrage on the expired rice.
The lawmakers also said NEMA’s Director General, Mustapha Maihaji, who they had recommended for removal, is being protected by the Vice President and the Presidency.
In June 2017, Chinese government donated and shipped 6,779 metric tons of rice (271 trucks, approximately 162,696 bags of rice), into the country’s seaport, meant for distribution to IDPs in the North-East.
Government agencies such as the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and NEMA were tasked with different responsibilities of receiving, clearing, storage, transportation and distribution of the consignments to IDPs.
However, one year later, after the food items were cleared from the ports, they have not reached their destinations, even after another N161 million was said to have been spent on transportation, delivery and logistics.
In April, while testifying in company of an official of Nigeria Customs Service before the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Maihaji, NEMA’s DG, denied that the consign-ments were missing.
He told the committee that the first batch was cleared from the ports and stored in a warehouse in Maiduguri, Borno State, and Yola in Adamawa State.
However, the state governments denied receiving even a single bag of rice from the consignment purported to have been delivered and distributed to IDPs by NEMA.
We distributed them—NEMA
Meanwhile, a report by the investigative committee indicted NEMA’s Governing Board, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and recommended the dismissal of Maihaji over breach of public trust and alleged fraudulent practices.
Sani Datti, NEMA spokesperson, said it was not true that the whole consignment was still with NEMA, adding “the distribution started last year. Some of the items are still there and they are being distributed monthly.
“It is not that we kept them. We distributed them directly to the beneficiaries. You know the items are large in quantity.”
Asked to clarify the issues raised in the report by the House committee, he said: “Don’t mind that report. We have our own submission; we’ve made it available.”