By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
The Senate has commenced investigation into an alleged unauthorised spending of N567 billion being the cost of taxes collected by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from January 2005 to July 2015.
Senate’s action is based on a petition from a non governmental organisation, Legislative Watch, to Senate President Bukola Saraki on August 13.
The Senate President consequently referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
A document from the Federal Ministry of Finance presented to the Committee by the petitioner indicated that the average monthly collection cost of the NCS was N2.5 billion raising the total amount not remitted by NCS for 126 months (January 2005 to July 2015) to N315 billion
Similarly, the document showed that the average monthly cost of collection of the FIRS was put at N2 billion which puts the total amount not remitted by FIRS over the same period at N252 billion making a total of N567bn.
Defending the petition before the committee, Executive Secretary of Legislative Watch, Ngozi Ihuoma, alleged that the amount represented the seven percent cost of tax collection paid to the NCS and the four percent also paid to the FIRS during the period.
The group alleged that the two agencies deducted the money from the amount collected on behalf of the Federal Government without appropriation by the National Assembly contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
Specifically, Ihuoma claimed that the action of the agencies’ management was against Sections 162 (3) and 165 of the constitution.
“We have observed that deduction of cost of collections started in January 2005 and the two agencies have been receiving the said percentages without appropriation from the National Assembly.
“We are worried that this cost of collection form part of leakages to the Federation Account and contravenes Section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“We further observe that both agencies – NCS and FIRS have failed to render account of the utilisation of this cost of collection from 2005 to date to the National Assembly.
“We have further noted that the Comptroller – General of the NCS has been using the seven percent cost of collection to buy private houses for private uses.”
Source : SunOnline