The House of Representatives is insisting that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, as chairman of the governing board of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has a case to answer for the embezzlement case against the agency.
Backstory: When the House first made the claims, Osinbajo had issued a rebuttal, claiming that he did nothing wrong by approving the amount of N5.8 billion for intervention in the North East region of the country.
The Vice President, through his spokesman, Laolu Akande, denied that he allowed any improper actions to take place. He explained that the funds were released in order to prevent a looming disaster resulting from severe food shortages in the North East.
House unconvinced: The chairman of the House investigative committee, Ali Isa, is however standing his ground. He said VP Osinbajo is still to be held accountable because he was the chairman of the governing board of NEMA as at when the funds were approved.
He explained that the Vice President, as Acting President, approved and directed the Minister of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation to release the sum of N5.8 billion in June 2017.
Isa noted that this move contravened the National Assembly’s power of approval, as the money was removed from the Eurobond without the consent of the parliament.
“There was no procurement, there was no due process, no contract, yet the money was released and expended,” he said.
Isa reported that his committee has documentary evidence to back up the violations.
“We invited various state governments and the governors or representatives of the various governors who told us that no bag of grain was delivered to their states. So, we gathered our facts from the presentations from various states and stakeholders,” Isa stated.
The House, had last Thursday, endorsed the report of the committee after it concluded its investigation of over N33 billion fraud at NEMA and consequently advised President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Director-General of NEMA, Engr. Mustapha Maihaji, for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement.
Bottom Line: The House makes a strong point that the presidency needs to respond to because that’s where the buck stops. Allegedly moving the money without NASS approval and then now that the resources have allegedly been diverted, all raise questions about Osinbajo’s own sincerity at a time when he has become the loudest voice condemning grand corruption in recent times. Osinbajo has however said that there are pieces of evidence to show that the monies approved were used to purchase food items which were later transported and distributed. He now needs to present the evidence.