Sunday, March 26, 2023

N5bn fraud, petitions, high-handedness dog NEMA DG, Maihaja

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The Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, have received petitions on monumental corrupt practices against the current Director General of National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja.

The new revelation is coming after a public hearing of House of Representatives investigating alleged breaches of public trust in NEMA where Mr Maihaja was found to have frittered over N5bn on companies that have no legal qualifications to get contract awards from the federal government.

The NEMA boss who has been enmeshed in several scandals including arbitrary harassment and suspension of directors and massive redeployment of accounts staff is allegedly engaged in corrupt practices shortly after his appointment in April 2017.

On receipt of the petition titled “Petition Against Engineer Mustafa Yunusa Maihaja, Director General NEMA”, the Office of the Vice President directed Mr Maihaja to respond to the query.

In a letter dated January 15, 2018 with Reference No: SH/OVP/DCOS/LGR&C/NEMA/367, and signed by Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, the NEMA boss was requested to send a brief on all the allegations raised against him in the petition.

Some of the allegations against the embattled DG in the petition stated that: “upon resumption of office in April 2017 Maihaja grounded the operations of Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU), Emergency Response Vehicles, Air Ambulance and the Helicopter that cost the Federal Government of Nigeria over $100 million tax payers money to put in place.”

The petition further disclosed that during the 2017 floods when the Acting President approved and released N1.6bn to provide succour to the 16 affected states, no item was procured and delivered to the states concerned despite the emergency involved.

Similarly, the Petition further disclosed that Mr Maihaja awarded a contract of N2.4bn without following due process and above his approval limit while assigning director of Relief and Rehabilitation to be signing contract awards.

The Director General was also alleged to have pocketed substantial amount of foreign currencies for official oversea trips without actually embarking on such trips or spending fewer days from the approved durations of the tours.

Another allegation against him read: “He travelled to the United Kingdom for a training with all his entitlements paid for two weeks but he only spent 5 days and bought an Apple iPad and return to the country only to pull out the amount from the agency’s account.”

Meanwhile the National Assembly through the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness has uncovered over N5 billion contract scandal under Mr Maihaja.

The lawmakers also lambasted him for spending over N400m demurrage on donated Chinese rice.

He was also accused of awarding contracts to fake companies that are not qualified for business engagements in Nigeria which included N1.6bn Flood Victims Fund for 16 States and N3.1bn Food Intervention for victims of Boko Haram in the North-East.

Concerned on his maladministration and victimisation of staff, the lawmakers have ordered Mr Maihaja and the Governing Board of NEMA to immediately recall the suspended directors of the agency who were removed for challenging his alleged “draconian disposition and unethical intents”.

The affected officers that were recalled are Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Gbolahan; acting director, Special Duties, Umesi Emenike; and director, Risk Reduction, Alhassan Nuhu.

Others are pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the Chief Maintenance Officer, Ganiyu Deji; and the Director of Welfare, Kanar Mohammed.

There are growing concerns that as ICPC and other security agencies are investigating Mr Maihaja on the petition, the NEMA boss is also using EFCC under the Office of Vice President to intimidate the staff, especially those that have spent over 10 years in the public service and union leaders.

Meanwhile, a national leader of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, told PRNigeria that public institutions should be protected from the vagaries of political office holders who may attempt to destroy the careers of incorruptible civil servants that dare to challenge their corrupt tendencies.

The union leader added that: “The current NEMA boss, Maihaja, has among other things refused to implement terms of agreement towards improving productivity in the agency while he harassed civil servants with financial scandals trailing him based on revelations at the National Assembly public hearing. If he continues to misbehave we will have no options than to mobilise forces to checkmate his draconian style that demoralises staff before he destroys the respected emergency agency.”

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