…. Agency pays N400mn Demurrage on China Donated Rice
For the second time in 24 hours, the House of Representatives has uncovered another contract scandal involving a whopping sum of N3.1bn in the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) under the current Director-General, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja.
The N3.1bn was said to have been approved and release for the agency by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for procurement of rice for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)S in the North-Eastern Region of the country being ravaged by the deadly activities of Boko Haram insurgents.
At the continuation of the alleged breach of public trust in NEMA by the House of Rep Committee on emergency and disaster preparedness, the Director General of the agency, Maihaja was found to have expended the huge sum on companies that have no legal qualifications to get contract awards from the federal government.
Two of the companies Olam Limited a foreign firm and Three Brothers Rice Mill were said to have been award huge rice supply contract without meeting the pre-qualification conditions.
At the public hearing, presided over by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Hon. Ali Isa, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) in their separate reports adopted by the committee claimed that the two companies never possess tax clearance certificates, having not paid any tax to the Federal Government coffers as required by law before they can be awarded any contracts.
The committee lambasted the NEMA boss for circumventing the Public Procurement laws brazenly in the award of the N3.1bn rice contract under the guise of acting under emergency.
Apart from the contract scandal, the House Committee also uncovered that only 110 containers out of 271 containers of rice donated to Internally Displaced Persons by the Chinese government have so far been cleared at the port since July last year when the donation was made.
The committee specifically took a swipe at the NEMA DG for paying over N400 million as demurrage on 110 rice containers due to the delay by the inefficiency of NEMA under Maihaja leadership.
Consequently, the House Committee ordered the Controller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Minister of Agriculture and that of Budget and National Planning to appear before the committee at the next adjourned date to enable them offer explanation on why the 6779 metric tonnes of rice meant for hunger-stricken Internally Displaced People in North-East are abandoned at Lagos Port .
The Committee expressed bitterness with NEMA boss over his claim that documents relating to the rice donation by the Chinese have been scattered and tampered with by unknown persons.
The Committee was also angry with Maihaja that he expended as much as N400 million taxpayers fund on the demurrage on the rice due to the long delay in clearing the containers by his office.
The Committee has therefore ordered Maihaja to go back to his office and get all relevant documents relating to the rice donation and bring them to the committee to enable the lawmakers take appropriate steps that would facilitate the evacuation of the huge quantity of rice from Lagos Port to the North-East region where they are needed to feed the IDPs.