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N8.9bn fund: Reps indict Osinbajo, seek NEMA boss’ sack

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The House of Representat ive s ’ Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness yesterday indicted Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in its report, accusing him of illegal approval of N5.8billion North-East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Presenting the committee’s report during plenary yesterday, chairman of the committee, Ali Isa (PDP, Gombe) said Osinbajo, who was the then acting president, illegally approved the release of N5.8 billion in June 2017 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account to NEMA. The committee chairman, while presenting the report said the approval for the fund for emergency food intervention in the North- East contravened Section 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which said “no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”

Besides, the lawmakers said that Osinbajo’s approval did not follow due process as taxes and interest accruable to the government were not deducted or remitted to FIRS just as no meeting of the Federal Executive Council approved the contracts. The committee said the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account in violation of the approval limit allowed by law. Specifically, the committee said of the N5.8 billion, NEMA got N829 million for logistics and claimed it spent N369.5 million on general logistics; N189 million on branding and packaging; N248.6 million on branding and packaging and N21.9 million on contingency.

The House, adopting the recommendations of the report, called for the dismissal and prosecution of NEMA’s Director- General, Mustapha Maihaja for fraud, corruption and embezzlement of N33 billion Emergency Intervention Fund as well as all the government officials involved in the approval, processing, release and diversion of the fund.

It also said the Central Bank of Nigeria, being banker to the federal government, should not have been involved in giving loans to private companies and as such should be investigated for the N2billion loan said to have been given to four named companies. The committee’s investigation of NEMA covered the release of N5.8 billion and N3.1 billion emergency food intervention of food security in the North East in 2017; the 6, 779 metric tonnes of rice donated by the Chinese government to IDPs in the North East and the payment of about N800 million demurrage on the donated rice.

The committee stated that N33 billion was lost by the federal government due to Maihaja’s mismanagement and outright embezzlement of funds. The House unanimously agreed to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the NEMA’s Director-General of his duties and hand him over to relevant authorities for prosecution.

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