The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness yesterday alleged that the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, was at the verge of diverting 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese government for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North East.
The Ali Isa JC-led panel had also on Wednesday accused the NEMA DG of converting for personal use N33 billion of the agency’s funds in just one year.
The committee chairman claimed that Maihaja and the Director of Relief Services had allegedly arrived Gombe to secure consents of the officers in the other five states in region namely Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Taraba.
He further alleged that the concerned parties were being prevailed upon to forge papers claiming to have taken official possession of the items.
Isa stated that his committee had allegedly discovered hundreds of the product stocked in a private warehouse in Lagos under questionable circumstances.
His words: “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 the IDPs who are dying of hunger, starvation and malnutrition.
“The committee wants to use this opportunity to alert the public so that they don’t buy or consume the rotten rice which will pose great risks to their health.”
Isa thereby urged the public to be vigilant, especially residents of Gombe, where the “wasted rice was allowed to rotten despite payment of N800 million as demurrage by NEMA under Maihaja.”
The Reps panel had same Wednesday released images of the 271 trucks and approximately 162,696 bags of the wasted rice to the consternation of Nigerians.
The situation is, however, made worrisome against the backdrop that the country faces acute shortage of food for these victims of Boko Haram insurgency and related violence, resulting in malnutrition among children
According to the United Nations, Nigeria harbours 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the troubled zone.