House Orders Stoppage of Nigeria’s Contribution to Lake Chad Commission

  • Probes NEMA over N2.4bn contract award

James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives thursday passed a motion ordering the suspension of Nigeria’s contribution to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) until all issues of allegations of corruption against its Executive Secretary (ES), Mr. Sanusi Abdullahi, are satisfactorily investigated and resolved.

It further directed the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to issue a letter mandating him to hand over to the commission’s newly appointed ES since the former’s tenure had already expired.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Chika Adamu (APC, Niger) which was brought under matters of urgent public importance on the urgent need to address the flagrant abuse of the authority and resolution of the House by the ES of the commission.

According to him, the House had on November 9, 2016, passed a resolution mandating its Committee on LCBC to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of mismanagement, lawlessness and misappropriation in the commission.

Abdullahi and other relevant officers of the commission were subsequently invited by the House committee to provide answers to questions raised- but they reportedly shunned the invitation.

Adamu further drew the attention of the green chamber to the fact that the ES had a penchant for flagrant disregard of parliament on a basis of a claim to immunity, relying on a December 20, 2016 memo purportedly issued from the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nonetheless, Adamu said the Lake Chad is one of strategic interest to Nigeria as a result of which the country stands out as a major contributor to the funds of the commission.

He said Nigerian funds contributed to LCBC constitute taxes generated from the commonwealth of its citizens while the House owes a duty to its citizens to ensure that such funds are put to good use in pursuance of Section 88 (1) (b) (ii) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Expectedly, during the debate, members categorically condemned Abdullahi for his contempt of the National Assembly and queried the diplomatic immunity which he claimed to enjoy in his position.
House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, shortly before hitting the gavel said no dime should be appropriated to the commission until there’s absolute compliance with the House resolutions.

He said: “If the ES claims diplomatic immunity, he should also claim diplomatic immunity in funding. No dime should be released until there’s compliance.”

Also yesterday, the lower chamber passed a motion mandating its Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to investigate an alleged violation of public trust at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The motion, sponsored by Hon. Benjamin Wayo (APC, Benue), stated among other things that in spite of its core mandate, several cases of disasters across the country had not been given required attention by the agency.

He said the agency had received over N10 billion from the 20 per cent National Ecological Fund in the last one year, N5billion for hunger intervention in North-east and about N2 billion for flood intervention.

Wayo said these funds were illegally siphoned by officials of the agency through dubious award of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims.

He said the Director General of the agency, Mustapha Maihaja also awarded contracts to firms in which he has personal interests as well as violated his approval limits by awarding contracts to Olam Nigeria Limited valued at N2.4 billion without due process.

He noted that the contract amount violated NEMA’s approval threshold which its Act put at N30 million.
He said the agency is the only federal agency with an air ambulance which had been converted into commercial one without remitting financial proceeds to government coffers- adding that the agency could not account for its assets.

He said Maihaja lacked the capacity to manage the affairs of NEMA, warning that urgent intervention was needed to avert an impending strike action by its staff.