…say VP approved N5.8bn while acting as president; no evidence of monies spent
By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives insisted yesterday that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as chairman of the governing board of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has a case to answer.
This is, however contrary, to a rebuttal from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that he did no wrong doing in the approval of N5.8 billiom for intervention in the North East region of the country.
The House also denied any interference with its activities by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, or any principal officer in the parliament.
The Vice President had through his spokesman, Laolu Akande, last week, denied that he indulged in any untoward actions but explained that the funds were released to prevent a looming disaster as a result of severe food shortages throughout the North East.
However, chairman of the investigative committee, Ali Isa, PDP, Gombe, submitted that being the chairman of the governing board of NEMA and approving authority at the time, Prof. Osinbajo might have questions to answer.
“There is nowhere in my report where I mentioned the Vice President or Prof. Yemi Osinbajo but he may have questions to answer as the chairman of the governing board,” he explained.
He stated further that the vice president, as acting president, approved and directed the Minister of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation to release the sum of N5.8 billion in June 2017.
He explained that the approval for the N5.8bn contravened the National Assembly’s power of approval, as the money was removed from the Eurobond without the consent of the parliament. “There was no procurement, there was no due process, no contract, yet the money was released and expended,” he stated.
The lawmaker said his committee had documentary evidence to back up the violations, explaining further that before arriving at its recommendations, stakeholders were invited and given ample opportunity to tell their side of the story.
“We invited various state governments and the governors or representatives of the various governors who told us that no bag of grain was delivered to their states. So, we gathered our facts from the presentations from various states and stakeholders,” Ali noted.
It would be recalled that the House had last Thursday, endorsed the report of the committee that investigated over N33 billion fraud at NEMA and consequently advised President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Maihaji, for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement.
While denying any involvement by office of the Speaker in the investigation, Ali said: “No single leader of the House directed the committee to carry out any action. I personally threatened to pull out if certain things were not done.
“I will be surprised if the Speaker had any interest in what is happening in the north east. But Benjamin Wayo from Benue State who sponsored the motion, did so because of the series of complaints from various quarters,” he affirmed.
Explaining details on the findings of his committee, Ali said it recommended that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the police should be directed to recover about N800 million alleged demurrage from some officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and NEMA.
The Gombe Rep noted that the committee also charged the ICPC and EFCC to recover N150m, being subsidised cost of 5000 metric tons of rice from the present DG, Engr. Maihaji who claimed to have donated same to World Food programme, WFP, when they were ready to pay for it or import same.
“In view of the fact that there is evidence that the balance of 5,000 metric tons claimed to have been supplied by Olam Nig. Ltd and 3 Brothers Nig. Ltd at the cost of about N1.5 billion to NEMA was not received by the states of the North East, the money should, therefore, be recovered from the Director General, NEMA,’’ he said.