The House of Representatives committee on national emergency and disaster preparedness has said no amount of blackmail will make it suspend its investigation into alleged fraud at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Members of the committee stated this on Tuesday during a press briefing at the National Assembly.
They held the press briefing to address allegations that some suspended directors of the agency, in league with the former Director General of NEMA had “formed an alliance with certain members and illegally procured and stolen papers from NEMA files in their bid to exonerate themselves and challenge their suspension.”
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Johnson Agbonayinma (APC, Edo State) said the committee had no special interest in the suspended directors, but rather got to know about it (allegations) from the Director General, Mustapha Maihaja.
“The attention of the House of Representatives has been drawn to reports in some national dailies, on the ongoing investigation by the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness on the “Need to Investigate Alleged Violation of Public Trust in National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“We also want to put it on record that as at today there is no petition from any staff of NEMA to the Committee or the House of Representatives.
“The issue of the suspended directors was mentioned by the Director General, Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja himself during one of the committee hearing, when he introduced a new Director of Finance and we sought to know what happened to the former director and he admitted to suspending them.”
He said the committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because the same directors are witnesses in the ongoing investigation.
“We have also observed with dismay, the ongoing campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the Presidency, especially His Excellency, the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN.”
He said Mr Osinbajo’s “only involvement” is because according to the law establishing NEMA, Section 2 Sub-Section 2(a) the Vice President is the Chairman of the Governing Council.
“We therefore want to know if the council under the vice president authorised the suspension of the directors.
“Notwithstanding the provision of Section 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which empowers the National Assembly to invite any person to appear before it, or its committee during investigations.”
On the invitation of the vice president to explain his role to the committee, Mr. Agbonayinma said the committee resolved that the vice president can send a representative.
He said the committee will leave no stone unturned until the truth is out.
“We will also not shield any public officer who soil their hands no matter how highly or lowly placed.
“We want to state unequivocally that no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny will deter or prevent us from conducting.
The committee is investigating the release of N5.9 billion food intervention in the North-east, another N3.1 billiin food intervention in the region, release of N1.6 billion for Libyan returnees, release of N1.6 billion flood intervention for 16 states and donation of 6,779 metric tonnes of rice by the Chinese Government.
It is also investigating the payment of about N800 million demurrage on donated rice by the Chinese government and the N10 billion release from the Ecological Funds