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Corruption Allegations: President Buhari Sacks Maihaja, Names Muhammed New NEMA DG

Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval, Air Vice-Marshal Muhammadu Alhaji Muhammed has been named the New Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA).

The appointment was announced in a statement issued on Saturday by Willie Bassey, the Director of Information in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

According to the statement,  the appointment took effect from Thursday, April 30, 2020, “for an initial period of four years in accordance with Section 3 of the National Emergency Management Agency Act”.

The erstwhile NEMA DG, Mustapha Maihaja, was directed to hand over all official matters to Muhammed immediately.

The President thanked the out-gone Director-General for his services and charged the new appointee to serve with diligence and commitment.

The former NEMA boss was in 2018 accused of corruption.

The Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), had received petitions on monumental corrupt practices against the former Director General of NEMA, Engr Maihaja.

The revelation come after a public hearing of House of Representatives investigating alleged breaches of public trust in NEMA where Maihaja was found to have expended over N5bn on companies that have no legal qualifications to get contract awards from the federal government.

The sacked NEMA boss who was enmeshed in several scandals including arbitrary harassment and suspension of directors and massive redeployment of Account Staff is alleged to be engaged in corrupt practices in less than a year since his appointment in April 2017.

On receipt of the petition titled “Petition Against Engineer Mustafa Yunusa Maihaja, Director General NEMA” the Office of the Vice President directed Maihaja to respond to the query.

In a letter dated January 15, 2018 with Reference No SH/OVP/DCOS/LGR&C/NEMA/367, and signed by Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, the NEMA boss was requested to send a brief on all the allegations raised against him in the petition.

Some of the allegations against the embattled Maihaja in the petition stated that: “upon resumption of office in April 2017 Maihaja grounded the operations of Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU), Emergency Response Vehicles, Air Ambulance and the Helicopter that cost the Federal Government of Nigeria over $100 million tax payers money to put in place.”

The petition further disclosed that during the 2017 floods when the Acting President approved and released N1.6bn to provide succour to the 16 affected states, no item was procured and delivered to the states concerned despite the emergency involved.

Similarly, the Petition further disclosed that Maihaja had awarded a contract of N2.4bn without following due process and above his approval limit while assigning director of Relief and Rehabilitation to be signing contract awards.

The sacked Director General was also alleged to have pocketed substantial amount of foreign currencies for official oversea trips without actually embarking on such trips or spending fewer days from the approved durations of the tours.

Another allegation against him read: “He travelled to the United Kingdom for a training with all his entitlements paid for two weeks but he only spent 5 days and bought an Apple Ipad and return to the country only to pull out the amount from the Agency’s account.”

Meanwhile the National Assembly through the House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness have uncovered over N5 billion contract scandal under the management of current DG NEMA Maihaja and lambasted him for spending over N400mn Demurrage on donated Chinese Rice.

He was also accused of awarding contracts to fake companies that are not qualified for business engagements in Nigeria which included N1.6bn Flood Victims Fund for 16 States and N3.1bn Food Intervention for victims of Boko Haram in North-East.

Concerned on his maladministration and victimisation of staff, the lawmakers ordered Maihaja and the Governing Board of NEMA to immediately recall the suspended Directors of the agency who were unfairly and unjustly treated for challenging his draconian disposition and unethical intents.

The affected officers that were recalled are Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Gbolahan; Ag. Director, Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike; and Director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu. Others are pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the Chief Maintenance Officer, Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa Deji; and the Director of Welfare, Mr. Kanar Mohammed.

There have been growing concerns that as ICPC and other security agencies were investigating Maihaja on the petition, the NEMA boss was also accused of using EFCC under the Office of Vice President to intimidate the staffs, especially those that have spent over 10 years in the public service and union leaders.

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