…as FIRS, PENCOM reports indict DG

By Yemi Itodo

The Nigerian House of Representatives, on Wednesday, uncovered irregularities in award of contracts by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to the tune of one billion, six hundred million naira (N1.6bn).

The House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, during an investigative hearing, discovered that NEMA spent N1.6bn in awarding contracts to companies in gross violations of extant laws in Nigeria.

Specifically, the Reps accused NEMA of awarding contracts and multiple contracts to companies that have no tax clearance and other prerequisite qualifications required by law.

The amount was said to have been released by the federal government in July 2017 for relief intervention by NEMA to flood victims in 16 states.

About 216 companies were allegedly linked to the inglorious contracta deals with the emergency agency.

During the investigative hearing on Wednesday, the deputy chairman of the committee, Hon. Ali Isa, revealed that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in their reports revealed that NEMA violated the law on tax and committed other breaches in the award of contracts to 216 companies.

The three agencies above were said to have submitted that, the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Maihaja, did not carry out due diligence and financial regulations on the companies to know their qualifications and their status before awarding them multi-million Naira contracts.

Aside the tax laws, the management was also indicted for breaching the Public Procurement Act 2007 in the ways and manners it awarded the controversial contracts.

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 believed that, the BPP must have cleared the contracts in error, as there were documents that clearly show the breaches in question whose authenticity have not been contested.

In a further damaging revelation, the governing council of NEMA, which was inaugurated on April 3rd 2018, same day suspended six directors said to have kicked against the manner the NEMA DG was awarding contracts in breach of due process.

The Director-General had claimed that the report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recommended the suspension of the officers.

The DG who was also facing investigation along with the directors, was left out of the suspension in the purported EFCC’s report.

Consequently, the committee requested that the suspended NEMA officials should appear before it on Thursday for continuation of the investigation and to enable the directors give evidence in the interest of fair hearing.