Refugees’ commission denies misappropriation of funds

The National Commission for Refugees Migrant and internally displaced persons (NCFRMI), has refuted claims from some quarters that the Federal Commissioner, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim misappropriated fund.

A statement by the head of press and public relations of the commission, Sampson Ikemitang said the claim that the Federal Commissioner (HFC) had spent N35m to furnish her office is absurd, unfounded and perhaps, exists purely in the imaginations of those who fabricated them.

According to the statement, “The said figures are cooked figures, desperate and orchestrated attempt to rubbish the good reputation of the HFC, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim. “

“Why would Federal Government release N8 billion to the Commission when its total budget -Capital, Recurrent and Overheads put together is not more than N5 billion? This is absurd” , the statement added.

The National Commission for Refugees Migrant and internally displaced persons is an agency of the federal government responsible for the welfare of about the most vulnerable set of Nigerians and foreign nationals displaced by insurgency and other forms of insecurity, natural disasters, and communal clashes.

Recall, on the 25th of November, 2021, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) under the leadership of it National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko had alleged that the Refugees Commission under the leadership of Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim on resumption of office in June 2021,  awarded contract of N35 million for the furnishing of the office of the Honourable Federal Commissioner (HFC).

 The statement noted that the previous HFC, Senator Bashir Lado, had reportedly tastefully renovated and refurnished the office less than five months before his redeployment to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP).

According to the Allegations, the Honourable Commissioner has no regard for procurement due process. “We have it on good authority that the Federal Government has so far released the sum of N8 billion to the Refugees Commission, but refuses to disclose to  the management the details of what monies are being spent on during Procurement Tenders Board meetings. She allegedly insists on anticipatory approvals and the Director, Legal, who questioned the legality of anticipatory approvals was allegedly removed.

“In other words, no member of management or staff of the Commission knows exactly what funds are spent on and how much except the DFA and the Legal Adviser she brought to the Commission.”

HURIWA said that the fate of the Director of Procurement and the atmosphere of fear pervading the humanitarian agency should interest President Muhammadu Buhari.

“There have been several clashes between the Director of Procurement and HFC. The Director of Procurement’s office has been sealed at some point reportedly. There was also a fire incident in his office suspected to be arsonist attack. His vehicle was subsequently vandalised and vital office documents he wanted to protect following the fire incident carted away. This should be probed by the National Assembly.

For insisting on due process, we understand that the Director of Procurement has been removed. Before that, the Assistant Director, of Procurement was redeployed to Planning and replaced with an Assistant Director imported from NAPTIP where the HFC was a DG. We equally gathered that the Director of Procurement refused to hand over to the Assistant Director insisted on handing over only to those staff of the Commission or person directed by the Bureau of Procurement.

The Allegation also query the Operation Zero Hunger recently launched by the Mrs. Sulaiaman-Ibrahim in conjunction with the Defence and Police Officers’ Wives Association (DEPOWA) as a replacement for the normal distribution of food and other household items to IDPs and refugees by the Commission. This is alleged to be her unilateral decision, which was never appropriated in the national budget, and executed solely by her without the knowledge or consultation of any management staff. No management staff has an idea how much she spends on Operation Zero Hunger or the contribution of the Commission to Project. We asked around and nobody is aware.

It is regrettable that the normal distribution of food and household items that have alleviated the sufferings and challenges of IDPs over the years have been replaced with Operation Zero Hunger, which hands out pittances to these vulnerable persons. We believe that this should deservedly be codenamed Operation Total Hunger. This is heartless and unbecoming of a humanitarian agency.

However, Ikemitang maintained that the Allegations are not true, they are baseless and can best be described as the handiwork of mischief makers. “What else can be so ridiculous to allege that  some staff even come to the office with personal chairs? Even a kindergarten will find it difficult to believe the allegation. This is utterly unthinkable and should be regarded as ‘fake news’, he said.