The probe of the N8billion grain supply contract by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness has suffered a major setback, following the refusal of Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, to appear before the lower chamber for the second time in a row.
NEMA could not make any presentation at the hearing, as the house rejected the Director of Relief and Rehabilitation Kayode Fagbemi — the representative sent by the DG.
In past hearing, the committee had interrogated three companies involved with the N8billion emergency food and food security programme on the basis of the fund allegedly released to them.
The beneficiary companies were to supply grains to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east.
The three companies that appeared before the lower chamber for investigation were: BUA, Three Brothers Rice Mill and Dangote.
It was further gathered that the three companies could not tell the committee exactly what office the contract for their supply of grains emanated from.
Only Olam stated that while it did not apply to NEMA for the contract to supply food to the North-east or mop up grains for off season use, it was granted the job by the agency. Olam also said it received payment from the office, though it had an outstanding of N274 million.
A representative of BUA claimed that BUA did not apply to the Central Bank of Nigeria for the contract. One of the documents before the committee showed that the disbursement, which all companies said was not a loan facility, came from the CBN as a public/private partnership arrangement. Contrary to the claims of the companies, the document showed that it was supposed to be a loan facility to the beneficiary companies.
Also appearing before the house for questioning was the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry, who was queried on another document which showed that the authorization to CBN to pay the companies was issued by his office.
Responding, Permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mahmud Isa-Dutse, pointed out that there was no contractual agreement — just an instruction from the office of the Accountant General to pay N5.8 billion to some companies, which they complied with.
However, the Office of the Accountant General denied having knowledge of what transpired between CBN and the beneficiary company, saying it was not aware of any dealings of the contract.
Maihaja is also facing a bigger probe — on how he allegedly misappropriated N1.6billion released to him in July 2015 by the Federal Government for relief intervention to flood victims in 16 states.