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N33bn fraud: Osinbajo queried NEMA boss, but…—Presidency

By Emmanuel Aziken & Soni Daniel

Indications emerged, yesterday, that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, queried the embattled Director-General of National Management Emergency Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja, over allegations of fraud and other issues relating to the management of the agency, but the issue was suppressed.

Maihaja has lately been in the news, following his indictment by the House of Representatives over allegations of fraud and diversion of N33 billion.

Also, NEMA was accused of failing to distribute thousands of bags of rice provided by the Chinese government for internally-displaced persons, IDPs, allowing same to rot in warehouses.

It was learned that Maihaja was queried by the Vice President on January 15 over sundry allegations of fraud.

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The query was due to a petition by one Abba Kyari Modu Gana, dated November 11.

The outcome of investigations and response to the query issued to him never came to light due to what sources said, yesterday, were concerted efforts by his sympathisers to cover him.

The query issued to Maihaja was signed by Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, office of the Vice President.

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The petition by Gana was also copied President, Osinbajo, who is Chairman of the board of NEMA, and the presiding officers of the National Assembly.

Gana, in his petition, alleged multiple infractions by Maihaja, who took over the management of the agency in April 2017, following which the petitioner alleged things got awry in the agency.

The petition read in part: “Upon resumption, he (Maihaja) grounded the Mobile Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Response Vehicles, Air Ambulance and the helicopters that cost the Federal Government about $100 million tax payers money to acquire.”

Noting the absence of NEMA intervention into the 2017 floods that affected 16 states of the federation, Gana observed that though there was a directive for the release of N1.6 billion for the supply of relief support for victims, “no item was procured and delivered to the states affected by flood.”

It added: “The DG awarded a contract of N2.4 billion without following due process even though it’s strictly above his approval limit and that of the Chairman Governing Council of the agency.

“Annexure II are copies of draft letters written to the Federal Executive Council and BPP, seeking certificate of no objection after an award letter was issued to the supplying company.

“Even though they are just draft documents, the DG went ahead to pay the company N360,000,000 and another N919,000,000 with just invoices.

“The NEMA Abuja operations office was located at Wuye District before his resumption in office. On the expiration of the rent, the DG (Maihaja) said the amount (N7,000,000) was on the high side, so he relocated the office to his brother’s house at Wuse Zone 2, Mombolo Street at the cost of N16,758,000 for the same period of two years.”

NEMA’s statement

However, NEMA relea-sed a detailed statement yesterday, claiming the report by House of Repre-sentatives did not represent the true state of affairs in at NEMA and asked Nigerians to ignore it.

According to the agency, Maihaja has not committed any financial infraction to warrant being removed from office.

The document said NEMA, under Maihaja, followed due process in the procurement and disbursement of items sent to IDPs across the country and should be commended rather than vilified.

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