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N5.8 Billion Fraud: A clean up of NEMA is imperative -: Says HURIWA;

*Asks Vice President; DG of NEMA to resign:
By HURIWA
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Following the indictment of the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo and the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in a N5.8 billion scam by the Federal legislature, a call from a leading pro-democracy organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has been made for comprehensive reorganization of the agency.

HURIWA has also frowned at the ongoing squabbles over the indictment of the Nigeria's number two citizen between the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo because the extensively damaging criminal allegations are being turned into a political wrestling match instead of the relevant agencies of government at the center and the national assembly to activate mechanisms to reform the corrupt infected system in place within the National Emergency Management Agency to refocus it and reposition it to play the role of an effective and efficient and professionally managed national first responder in the Country. HURIWA says Nigeria does not have the luxury of time to engage in political gymnastics by the political actors given that there are several national emergency situations that have happened all over the nation with thousands of Nigerians becoming internally displaced with no effective remedial redress mechanisms both at the center and the federating units.

In a statement by both the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA has asked the Vice President and the Director General of NEMA to resign immediately or be suspended for three months or sent on compulsory leave pending the holistic determination of the subsisting allegations even as they are are to subject themselves to transparent and open investigative activities by a combined team of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC); Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC); and the Code of Conduct Tribunal so as to ensure hitch free probe of the extensively damaging allegations. HURIWA said EFCC alone can not guarantee a transparent given the affinity that exists between the acting Chairman of Efcc and the Vice President.

HURIWA which applauded the All Progressives Congress dominated Federal House of Representatives for not capitulating to partisan pressure and undermine the investigation, has however affirmed that the enabling Act setting up the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) needed to be reworked fundamentally to insulate the office from the institutionalized political interferences of the presidency given that the Vice President is listed as the Chairman of the governing body of the agency.

Besides, HURIWA has tasked the National Assembly to take up the national assignment of reforming the enabling Act that set up NEMA so as to provide for the appointment of a technocrat with no political affiliations to head the National Emergency Management Agency because of the strategic national functions that such a sensitive institution is created to perform.

The Rights group lamented that over the years, NEMA has been used as a politically manipulated national cake by the party in power to reward the patrons of the political party just as the Rights group stated that the current management is the worst because of the fact that the Director General was basically rewarded for his contributions to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“We commend the visionary speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and the committee which began and completed the legislative probe of the monumental scandals within NEMA and has uncovered a spectacle of fraud and deliberate disobedience of the due process governing public procurement. Those indicted must be dealt with appropriately.”

“This is a clear case of criminality and must not be reduced into the traditional brick bats between PDP and APC. The right thing must be done so as to properly refocus NEMA to deliver services qualitatively and equitably to all sections of Nigeria instead of the current position whereby it operates like a pro-North East agency.”

HURIWA recalled that the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness offered insight into why it indicted Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the alleged diversion of N5.8 billion meant for emergency intervention in the north east.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Ali Isa J.C., who addressed reporters at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, explained that there was no way Osinbajo could be exonerated from the alleged mismanagement of the fund.

Isa said: “Yes, of course, he (Osinbajo) does have questions to answer. He may have questions to answer because he is the chairman of the governing council of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and he was the acting president that gave the approval.”

To justify his position, he brandished a memo (reference number SH/OVP/DCOS/HMF/010), dated June 1, 2017, which drew the attention of the former finance minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to an approval for the purchase of 30,905,08 metric tonnes of grains worth N5,036,644,933.26 and the cost for logistics and distribution of the grains put at N829,026,456.

The lawmaker also brandished another memo (HMF/FMF/CBN/FOOD/1/2017) dated June 2, 2017, in which Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, drew the attention of Adeosun, Osinbajo and the Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris to the payment instruction for the aforementioned amount of money.

He further claimed that in breach of laid down procedure, the money was paid directly to five companies: Dangote Rice Limited (N936.1 million); Golden Agric Input Limited (N1.3 billion); BUA Rice Limited (N1.3bn); WACOT Limited (N453.6 million); and WACOT Limited (N939.9 million) while NEMA received N829 million for the transportation of the goods.

Isa, who insisted the report was not politically motivated, urged anti-graft agencies not to shirk their responsibilities by bringing to book anyone found wanting in the alleged theft.

HURIWA has specifically recommended the Chairman of the House investigative panel and his members for special national awards for their bravery and courage in unravelling the systemic rots within the National Emergency Management Agency.