There are indications that the embattled Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Maihaja, has started making frantic moves to evacuate and dispose of the about 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese government for distribution to Internally Displaced Persons in the North East.
This is coming on the heels of discoveries by the House of Representatives committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness which indicted Maihaja for alleged fraud, misappropriation and embezzlement of the sum of N33 billion of funds released to the agency in just one year.
The committee, in a statement said Information available to it indicates that Maihaja and the Director Relief Services arrived in Gombe early Wednesday and have already contacted NEMA officers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Taraba states to prepare and forge papers to claim that they received the items while making effort to evacuate and dispose the items from the warehouse in Gombe.
The committee further said that it discovered that hundreds of metric tons of the Chinese donated rice have been kept under lock and key in a private warehouse in Lagos under questionable circumstances.
“We are intensifying efforts to unravel the mystery surrounding how the rice was 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 chaired by Hon Ali Isa J. C said in a statement.
“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”, Ali Isa said.
There are also allegations that NEMA DG has directed top management staff to alter procurement and relief items distribution documents so as to cover his tracks.
“We want the public to be vigilant especially residents of Gombe where the wasted rice was allowed to rotten despite paying the sum of N800 million as cost of demurrage accumulated at the port by NEMA under Maihaja”, the source said.
It would be recalled that images of emerged early on Wednesday, of the 271 trucks and approximately 162,696 wasted bags of rice as released by the Committee.
The images of the wastes relief bags of rice have continued to attract widespread condemnation from every part of the country.
The monumental waste is coming despite repeated reports of hunger and malnutrition in several Internally Displaced Persons, IDP camps across the country, especially in the Northeast.
According to the United Nations, Nigeria is still facing a crisis of global magnitude with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the northeast.
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