James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness yesterday vowed to unearth the truth in its ongoing investigation of alleged breach of public trust and violation of public contractual system.
It said no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny would deter it from pressing on with the probe which has generated controversies since its commencement.
The committee recently invited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is the Chairman, Governing Council of NEMA, to appear before it or send a representative to explain the circumstances surrounding the sack of six senior staff of the agency without following laid down procedures as stated in the public service rule.
However, briefing journalists on the issue, the committee, represented by Hon. Johnson Agbonayinma, alongside three other members, including Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Gabriel Onyenwife and Hon. Amiru Idris, said its areas of investigation were the release of N5.9 billion food intervention in the Northeast; release of N3.1 billion food intervention in North east; release of N1.6 billion for Libya returnees and release of N1.6 billion flood intervention for 16 states.
The committee, which held an emergency meeting earlier, following media reports on allegations of its under dealings in the probe, said itâ€™s further screening the donation of 6,779 metric tonnes of rice by the Chinese Government; payment of about N800 million demurrage on the donated rice by Chinese and the unaccounted N10 billion released from ecological funds.
Agbonayinma said: â€œAttention 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 â€œNeed to Investigate Alleged Violation of Public Trust in National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
â€œWe also want to put the record that as at today, there is no petition from any staff of NEMA to the committee or the House of Representatives.
â€œThe issue of suspended directors was mentioned by the Director-General, Mr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja, during one of the Committee hearings 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. The committee also sought to know whether the suspension followed due process because these same directors are witnesses in the ongoing investigation.â€
The lawmaker said the involvement of Osinbajo stemmed from his position as the Chairman of the NEMA Governing Council.
According to him, â€œWe have also observed with dismay the ongoing campaign of calumny sponsored to pitch the House against the presidency, especially Osinbajo.
â€œThe VPâ€™s only involvement is because according to the law establishing NEMA, Section 2 subsection 2(a), the vice president is the chairman of the Governing Council.
â€œWe therefore want to know if the council under the vice president authorised the suspension of directors.
â€œNotwithstanding 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
â€œThe committee resolved that the vice president can send anybody to represent him considering his busy schedules.
â€œThis committee will leave no stone unturned until we unearth the truth. We will also not shield any public officer who soil their hands no matter how highly or lowly placed.
â€œWe want to state unequivocally that no amount of blackmail or campaign of calumny will deter or prevent us from conducting this investigation.â€