The director general of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA has denied the accusations of mismanaging or embezzling N33 billion and violation of public trust made against it by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Preparedness Response.
The agency disclosed that it is imperative to clarify some of the allegations raised by the committee because they do not reflect the facts and documents placed before it by NEMA.
The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Preparedness Response had recently accused NEMA of violation of public trust by collecting the sum of N5, 865, 671, 939.26 in June 2017 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.
But the director-general of the agency, Mustpha Maihaja, disclosed at a press conference held at the national headquarters of the agency in Abuja, yesterday that at no time did he receive such amount of money from the office of the Vice President.
Maihaja disclosed that all projects and programmes executed by the agency are “properly documented; Waybills, SRVs, SIVs, and stubs where vouchers were used are all available.”
He noted that, for the House to insinuate that the sacred duty of saving lives and provision of livelihoods was abused,” is a very difficult pill to swallow, not only for me, but for many members of my team as well as our partner Agencies such as the Military, Police and International Humanitarian Agencies.”
While emphasising the need to respond to the allegations, the DG said, “We are not here to come up with excuses. Today, this public response is an obligation as a government to adequately inform Nigerians of what truly happened.”
According to him, the confidence Nigerians have on NEMA and its capability to respond in their most difficult time of need cannot be tarnished, adding that “Nigerians need to be rest assured that NEMA is, was and will always remain “for the distressed”.
Maihaja said, “The budget of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) for the period January to April 2017 was $1.05 billion. The sum of $590 million was for food and nutrition. As at April 2017, only the sum of $94.8 million was provided by the donors. This meant that we had a shortfall of $495.8 million in food funding. For the period May to October 2018, when the Federal Government Emergency Food Intervention for the North East was being implemented, the World Food Programme net-funding requirement was $230 million.”
Speaking on the rice donated by the People’s Republic of China, the NEMA DG said, 6,779 metric tonnes of rice was donated to Nigeria as part of its support to the North East humanitarian efforts.
He said,” This is equivalent to 135,550 units of 50kg bags of rice. In total, 271 containers, arrived at Apapa Port from China in 5 shipments between June and October 2017.
“Considering NEMA’s mandate as it relates to humanitarian intervention, we were instructed to take the responsibility of port clearing and ultimate movement of the rice to the North East.
“The original Shipping documents and Custom Exemption Certificates were handed over to NEMA by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MB&NP) in December 2017 and January 2018. Thereafter NEMA commenced the immediate clearing and subsequent haulage of the donated rice to Maiduguri, Damaturu, Yola, Jaling o, Gombe and Bauchi.
“Being a donated consignment, it required duty exemption and other waivers before Clearing. The government had restricted the importation of rice, hence the process of getting the proper documentation also took extra time.
“The total cost of shipping and storage charges for the 271 containers was N518 million. We have all the receipts to prove this. The actual cost of the donated rice is N2.24 billion (50.05 Million Chinese Yuan).
“The invoices by convention bear the consignee’s name. However, NEMA being the Agency that cleared the goods made the payments on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
“The companies that were engaged for clearing the donated rice were duly registered with NEMA, ITF, NSITF, and PENCOM with relevant documents submitted to NEMA which formed the basis for the award of the contract.
“To further justify that the items were received on behalf of the federal government, they were delivered into NEMA warehouses in Gombe, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, and warehouses provided by the State Governments in Bauchi, Taraba, and Yobe. The Chinese rice was used for monthly feeding of the IDPs specifically in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states with balance in stock at Gombe, Bauchi, and Taraba.”
Maihaja, however, assured Nigerians that the agency will continue to consult and engage all stakeholders since the mandate of the agency is meant to be inclusive and value adding.
“We will ensure that the confidence Nigerians have in NEMA during their time of need is sustained and enhanced, “ he stated.