By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA—HOUSE of Representatives committee probing the fraud in National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has discovered another set of rice hidden in a warehouse in Lagos.
This came barely 24 hours after the House released pictures of over 162,000 bags of rice, donated to the federal government by the Chinese government for the benefit of internally displaced persons, IDPs, in the North East, found to have gone rotten in a warehouse in Gombe State.
A statement by chairman of the committee, Ali Isa J.C, read: “The committee has further discovered that hundreds of metric tons of the Chinese donated rice have been kept under lock and key in a private warehouse in Lagos under questionable circumstances.
“We are intensifying efforts to unravel the mystery surrounding how the rice was diverted from the ports to the said warehouse instead of being transported directly to the affected states for onward distribution to IDPs who are dying of hunger, starvation and malnutrition.
“The committee wants to use this opportunity to alert members of the public to watch out and be careful so that they don’t buy or consume the rotten rice which will pose great risk to their health.
It was also gathered that Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja, has taken desperate steps to evacuate the unwholesome grains from Gombe State.
Vanguard learned that no fewer than 6,779 metric tons of rice, which translates into 271 trucks and approximately 162,696 bags of rice was surreptitiously moved on Wednesday in a desperate bid by the DG to mitigate public outrage against him and his agency for allowing such quantity of food meant for IDPs in the North East to be wasted along with huge public funds.
A top National Assembly source connected with the probe said the NEMA DG and his Director Relief Services arrived in Gombe early Wednesday to hurriedly commence evacuation of the expired rice from the warehouse.
But spokesman of NEMA, Sani Datti, has debunked the claims by the Reps that the whole consignment of rice donated by China to Nigeria was still in its custody.
“It is not that we kept the rice. We distributed it directly to the beneficiaries and you know the rice is large in quantity,” Datti, said.