The hope of the six suspended directors of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) became brighter as the House of Representatives has insisted on their recall in the interest of fairness and justice.
The House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness conducting investigation into the circumstances that led to the suspension of the officials claimed that Justice must be done in line with the provision of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
The affected NEMA officers are Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Gbolahan; Ag. Director, Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike; and Director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu. Others are pilot in charge of Air Ambulance and Aviation Unit, Mr. Mamman Ali Ibrahim; the Chief Maintenance Officer, Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa Deji; and the Director of Welfare, Mr. Kanar Mohammed.
At the resume of investigative hearing on the matter, the six officials were absent indicating that they have not been reinstated by NEMA boss, Mr. Mustapha Maihaja as directed by the Committee last week.
During the investigative hearing, the Committee members were shocked when the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu admitted that his agency recommended the suspension of the affected NEMA officials.
The House Committee members demanded the interim report upon which Magu claimed he based the recommendation for the suspension but were stunned when Magu told the panel that the report was not available.
Rather, the EFCC boss said he would try to make the report available to the committee at the next adjourned date.
In the debate that followed, the NEMA boss who doubled as Secretary to the Governing Council of the agency was asked if the affected directors of NEMA were invited by the Governing Council for further interrogation before they were placed on suspension.
In his response, Maihaja attempted to circumvent the answer but when put on oath, he admitted that the affected staff were not invited for hearing by the council to defence themselves before they were suspended.
When his attention was drawn to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ali Isa, the NEMA boss simply answered that the suspension was based on the recommendation of the EFCC.
When asked to produce a copy of the recommendation or any correspondence from EFCC to the governing council, Maihaja told the Committee that the council and NEMA have no documents from the anti-graft agency. He however tendered his own memo to the council which he recommended the suspension of the officers.
The Committee members who were provoked by the submission of NEMA boss then demanded from him to draw their attention to any section of the NEMA Act which allowed the governing council to act unilaterally as it did in the suspension saga but Maihaja could not locate any section in the Act.
Maihaja’s feeble attempt to justify the suspension of the director drew the anger of the stakeholders at the venue of the hearing who attempted to boo him before the committee chairman called them to order.
Meanwhile, while answering further questions from the lawmakers, the DG NEMA said he would be ready and willing to work with the directors whenever they are reinstated back to the agency.
Meanwhile the Committee has again directed the NEMA to produce the directors at the next adjourned date to enable them to give evidence in the alleged breach of trust brought against the Director General.