Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The House of Representatives has alleged that the National Emergency Management Agency has begun moves to dispose of about 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese government for distribution to Internally Displaced Persons in the North-East.
The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, in a statement by the Office of the Speaker on Thursday, claimed that information available to them indicated that NEMA Director-General Mr Mustapha Maihaja and the Director, Relief Services, NEMA, arrived in Gombe State on Wednesday to allegedly ensure that the bags of rice were disposed of.
Maihaja allegedly contacted officers of the agency in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Taraba States for the removal of the bags of rice from the warehouse, according to the statement.
The lawmakers alleged that the plan was “to prepare and forge papers to claim that they received the items while making efforts to remove and dispose of the items from the warehouse in Gombe.”
The committee also said it had discovered that hundreds of metric tons of the donated rice had been kept under lock and key in a private warehouse in Lagos under questionable circumstances.
The statement quoted Chairman of the committee, Mr Ali Isa, as saying, “We are intensifying efforts to unravel the mystery surrounding how the bags of rice were diverted from the ports to the said warehouse instead of being transported directly to the affected states for onward distribution to IDPs, who are dying of hunger, starvation and malnutrition.
“The committee wants to use this opportunity to alert members of the public to watch out and be careful so that they don’t buy or consume the rotten rice which will pose great risk to their health.”
The House of Representatives had indicted Maihaja over alleged embezzlement of funds in excess of N33bn under his watch.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was also indicted for allegedly approving N5.8bn and N3.1bn for intervention in the North-East humanitarian crisis without National Assembly’s approval, which the House claimed was illegal.
Source: Punch Newspaper