Reps uncover N1.6 billion contracts fraud at NEMA

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The House of Representatives committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness has uncovered irregularities in award of contracts by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

At an investigative hearing on violation of public trust in NEMA by the House Committee, it was discovered that the agency spent N1.6billon on contract awards to companies that have no tax clearance and other prerequisite qualifications as demanded by the Nigerian laws.

The amount was released to the agency by the Federal Government in July 2017 for relief intervention to flood victims in 16 states.

The huge sum was said to have been expended on contracts awarded to 216 companies.

At the investigative hearing which was presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Ali Isa, the committee 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 the companies.

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In their separate reports, FIRS, ITF and PENCOM stated that the Director General, 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.

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This, however, was rejected by members of the Committee who explained that there are documents that clearly show the breaches in question whose authenticity have not been contested, and therefore, the BPP must have cleared the contracts in error.

In a further damaging revelation, the governing council of NEMA, which was inaugurated on April 3, on the 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.

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As at the time of filing the reports, Mr. Maihaja’s was unreachable, as calls placed to his special adviser on Media, Sani Datti, did not yield response.

The Committee, however, ordered that the suspended NEMA officials appear before it on Thursday for continuation of the investigation and to enable the directors give evidence in the interest of fair hearing.

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