The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita yesterday said the suspension of six directors by the Board of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, was in order.
Also, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu said the agency recommended the suspension of the affected officers in order to allow detectives unfettered access to vital documents.
The two officers made the clarifications while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster preparedness investigating the activities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Those placed on suspension are the Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Hakeem Gbolahan; Ag. Director, Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike; Director, Risk Reduction, Mallam Alhassan Nuhu; Pilot in-charge 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.
The EFCC had in a report to the Presidency recommended the disciplinary measure in order to enable it to conduct unhindered investigation and have access to vital records.
But Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita yesterday said the Vice President and NEMA board members acted in line with Public Service Rules on the suspension of the Directors and staff of the agency .
She also said the Governing Council has the powers to suspend the directors and other staff of the agency if the situation warranted .
The committee had invited the Head of Service to guide it on the procedure for suspending staff of the Agency and to ascertain if the Governing Council had the powers to suspend the six staff of the agency.
Represented by Mustapha Suleiman , a Permanent Secretary, the Head of Service enlightened members on the disciplinary processes in the Public Service Rules
The Head of Service said: ” Under Section 4 serious misconduct is specify as serious wrongdoing and improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the Service, which if investigated and proven can lead to dismissal from service.”
“The list is contained in sections 03, 04, 02 which he said includes falsification of records, suppression of records, conviction of a criminal charge, bribery, corruption, misappropriation, embezzlement and sabotage etc.
“The indicted officer would cease to be on his/ her duty and the suspension can come from the Civil Service Commission, Head of Service or the Governing Council.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Committee said the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo hadwritten to say because of his busy schedule, the Secretary of the Governing Council, who is also the DG of NEMA or members of the Council present at the hearing would answer questions meant for him.
The Committee turned to the NEMA DG to show them any law that gives the Council the Power to suspend the Directors and other staff of the Agency.
The Director- General reads: ” By the provision of the Act, the relevant section of the NEMA Act that allows the Governing Council to superintend the affairs of the Agency is Section 7(10).
” The Council shall have the power to (a) manage and superintend the affairs of the Agency .
(b) subject to the provisions of this Act….and function of the agency
(c) for the term and condition of service including remuneration of the employees of the Agency after consultation with the Federal Civil Service Commission, and do such other things which in the opinion of the Agency are necessary to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of the Agency.
“At no time were they dismissed from the agency.”
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ), Ibrahim Magu confirmed that the recommendation for the suspension of the said officers was given by the Commission in its interim report of its investigation.
“We received a petition in December 2017 and we went into the investigation proper.
“At a level, an interim position was provided and that those whose evidence of wrong doing has been established to be suspended in order not to hinder the investigation”.
He pleaded that the committee allow him to provide the requested documentary evidence requested later.
In reaction to Committee’s question on whether or not members of the council were in agreement with the position of the position canvassed by the FG, Olusegun Adekunle, a Permanent Secretary in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) affirmed that the decision was made by the council.
“What has happened is a criminal investigation conducted by the EFCC and the preliminary report was for us to take a decision.
“I agreed with reason as canvased on how suspension should be done, if their continued stay in office will hinder investigation,” he said.