A nongovernmental group, the New Initiative for Credible Leadership (NiCReL) has accused some top-ranking officers at the National Emergency Management Agency of attempting to scuttle the effort of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from beaming its searchlight on the agency.
The executive director of NICReL Patriot Gabriel Apeh, who raised the alarm, therefore called on the EFCC to ensure that the ongoing investigations do not end up as another media circus in which hype dominate the media and public opinion space without an outcome that is beneficial to the anti-corruption war.
NICRel warned the anti-corruption agency not to be distracted by the officers found wanting in the missing funds.
The group claimed that some ‘masked agents’ are going about town with non-existing documents to smear the reputation of the current NEMA DG, Mustapha Maihaja, the group said that their plans will hit the rock because their moves will not stop their persecution.
It will be recalled that the anti-graft agency had a few weeks back invited 20 top officers of NEMA for questioning over an alleged scandal of N2.5 billion in the agency.
According to reports, NEMA had suspended six directors in the agency who had a connection with the alleged scandal.
But NICrel said officers indicted by the financial crimes watchdog have been running from pillar to post with the aim of frustrating the EFCC from doing its job.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Apeh said, “There is already a distortion of the facts and context such that the entire exercise could be truncated simply on that account. Those under investigation are making spirited efforts to link the current leadership to the crimes they have committed in the hope that the administration will refrain from indicting itself.
“Our charge is that the Chairman of the NEMA Board, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo must not cave into the blackmail by the ex-NEMA DG and the directors that have been indicted for fraudulently skimming off money belonging to Nigeria. Attempting to rope in the incumbent Director General, Mustapha Maihaja, is aimed at roping in Professor Osinbajo, as Chairman of the Board, in the belief that he would call off the probe.
“This plot, being executed by staff loyal to the indicted directors, was written as a petition to the various statutory bodies which investigated the activities of the Maihaja led executive of NEMA as Director General. These were all thoroughly investigated by the Board of NEMA and those indicted have been recommended to the EFCC, which is the ongoing trial that many of these agents want to scuttle overnight.
“The over 700 vouchers, contract documents attached their various petitions in an attempt to hit back at the Director-General Mustapha Maihaja for failing to cover their track is a clear indication that those behind it have unfettered access. Our finding is that the documents were questionably sourced over weekends and public holidays when the perpetrators used master keys to gain access to documents that were under the custody of other staff. The desperation to cast aspersion on the anti-corruption war is really high on their part.
“At a later date, Vice President Osinbajo, as the Chairman of the NEMA Board, should order a separate information into launching a separate probe into how these indicted persons unlawfully breached the internal security of the agency to steal documents.
“We are also aware that the Ex-DG, Mohammed Sani-Sidi, who is at the middle of the entire saga has activated his contacts in the National Assembly to pervert a probe by the House of Representatives that should shed light on what truly happened at NEMA.
“This is in spite of the fact that the House probe became derailed when the indicted directors and ex-NEMA DG started contacting the House of Representatives Members on the panel.
“We are further at a loss as to why the House of Representatives did not allow the EFCC, as a statutory agency, to complete its investigations before usurping its powers. No Nigerian is in doubt as to the extent to which our members of parliament can behave and blackmail anyone that fails to play ball as usual. It is worrisome and remains a disgrace to our Democracy.
“In our view, the investigation of this crime against Nigerians risks being reduced to the usual television and media reality show that any legislative investigation ends up as in Nigeria. The distraction that would result could seriously jeopardize the smooth management of emergencies in Nigeria, in addition to worsening the plight of IDPs.”
The group added that it will be against the national interest to reduce the grievous theft of national funds into an issue for a political investigation that will not go anywhere while urging Nigerians to weigh in on the matter and demand for the truth.