Reps: How NEMA DG breached procurement laws, punished whistle-blowers

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has unveiled series of procurement breaches by the Director General (DG) of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha  Yunusa  Maihaja, including award of contracts to non-existent companies and some that do not meet legal requirements.

The management of the agency spearheaded by the DG has also been unleashing unjust punitive measures against staff who blew the whistle on corrupt practices in the agency.

These disclosures came to light at the resumed investigative public hearing organised by the House Committee on the Violation of Public Trust in NEMA.

Members of the Committee discovered that documents at the disposal of the committee indicated that majority of the companies approved by the agency to undertake contracts were in breach of the Procurement Act to the extent that one of the companies, Three Brothers, is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

They also discovered from documents presented to the committee by the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) that most of the companies were defaulters in remittance of pension, defaulters in tax payment as submitted by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the committee.

Furthermore, the committee observed that the DG has been exceeding his approval limit for contracts without due approval by the presidency as required by law.

In response to some of the allegations, the DG presented a Certificate of No Objection obtained from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as proof that all due process procedures were followed before the contracts were awarded.

This, however, was rejected by members of the Committee who explained that there are authentic documents that clearly showed the breaches in question and that the BPP must have cleared the contracts in error.

The lawmakers also the suspension of personnel of the agency over allegations of corruption, saying it was puzzling that the Director General, who was also fingered in corrupt activities has been allowed to continue superintending over the affairs of the agency.

The committee noted that due to the absence of the suspended personnel, especially the Director of Finance and accounts, certain information required by the Committee were not be available, and therefore, the DG must appear with them subsequently.

The lawmakers questioned the speed with which the affected staff were suspended based on a report purportedly emanating from the Governing Council of NEMA because the Council was only inaugurated on the 3rd of April, 2018.

The Committee was not convinced by Maihaja’s explanations as to why after receiving N1.6 billion from the federal government for emergency relief in July 2017 for flood victims, the agency failed to provide relief materials to affected people and areas until December, 2017, six months after the incidents took place in 16 states across the country, when it started distribution.

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