The Coalition For Truth and Justice (CfT&J), a conglomeration of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria has cried out over a plot by some persons to invade the Abuja headquarters of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the guise of protests.
CfT&J claimed that plans have been concluded some persons parading themselves as contractors of the agency in collusion with some criminal gangs to stage protests to NEMA office over claims of failure of the agency to honour their pending requests for contracts payments they purportedly executed with NEMA.
Barrister Timothy Charles, National Co-ordinator of CfT&J in a statement issued on Tuesday, noted that the protesters are aimed at blackmailing and arm-twisting the current leadership of NEMA led by the Director-General, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja into honoring fake contractual obligations, inflated payment vouchers or making bogus payments on frivolous claims by contractors without recourse to due process or laid down procedures.
According to Charles, “the CSOs have it on good authority that the decision of the so-called contractors to embark on this shameful, unlawful act and blackmail of the DG NEMA, Engr. Mustapha is spurred by the desire of these elements to sustain the culture and habit of extracting fake payments for bogus or claims for non-existent contracts as done in the past .
“We have reliably gathered that it has been the tradition under the past administration of the ex-DG NEMA, Mr. Mohammed Sani Sidi, which was famed for payments of such questionable contracts, currently under investigation by the EFCC.
“Nigerians should recall that the EFCC is investigating various layers of sleaze perpetrated under the former administration of Mr. Sidi Sani. And the sum of N2.5 billion has been established by the preliminary report of the EFCC as embezzled, which report was submitted to the Governor Board of NEMA.
“The fraud which was allegedly committed by the former DG NEMA, six directors and other subordinate staff is still under investigation by the anti-graft agency.
“And the tentative report suggests that the EFCC is querying alleged diversion of foods and relief materials for IDPs; the use of fake companies and weigh bills to secure NEMA contracts by some directors; the incorporation of multiple personal companies by some directors to secure the agency’s contracts; fake vouchers for delivery of relief materials to non-existent IDP camps among others.
“These are grave financial improprieties and crimes, which are offensive to extant financial laws of Nigeria. It mainly violates and abuses the due process and accountability. It is also a taint on anti-corruption stand of the administration of President Muhammedu Buhari as represented in NEMA by Engr. Maihaja.”
The statement further revealed that the planned deployment of intimidation and arm-twisting tactics by these undertaker contractors to extract payments for doubtful contractual claims, adjudged fraudulent and currently under the searchlight of the EFCC is untenable and unjusticeable.
He added, “It is further confirmation of the sophisticated web , both within and outside the agency, which have drained NEMA of mindboggling sums of money over unverified and fraudulent contractual obligations.
“We perceive it as the continuation of the various subterranean schemes by the tentatively indicted former and serving officials of the agency, including directors who allegedly perpetrated the frauds under the Sidi Sani leadership to further subvert the cause of justice.
“We strongly object to any attempt by the current NEMA management to honour any of the pending contractual obligations with payments, until the EFCC concludes its investigations and certify genuinely contracts and payments which do not contravene the law before payment is effected.
“But in the interim, the CSOs will not hesitate to halt any activity by these contractors in connivance with some criminal elements designed to sabotage NEMA.
We shall further expose them and the criminal records of their backers, if these suspicious elements do not desist from such an inglorious adventure.
“It is completely needless to seek to overheat the polity in order to benefit illegally and enrich themselves with bogus claims of contracts with public funds.
Commonsense should have alerted these so-called contractors of the impracticability of demanding payments for contracts alleged as fraudulent and under the scrutiny of the anti-graft agency.
“The contractors with genuine and reasonable claims to any executed contract with the agency should be patient enough to wait for the outcome of EFCC investigations or after the appropriate scrutiny in the best interest of the country.
“Indeed, information at the disposal of the CSOs indicates that the planned protests by the contractors is a decoy to gain illegal access into the premises of the agency to set the NEMA office, Abuja, on fire.
This is primed to destroy any evidence to truncate the EFCC ongoing investigations of the alleged contracts fraud in NEMA to let the suspects off the hook.
The group further called on all security agencies, particularly, the Police, the Department of State Security Service (DSS), the Civi Defence and others to be on red alert to halt the plan as well as , arrest and arraign the perpetrators in court for prosecution.