The Senate has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to immediately cancel the contract awarded to a private firm, Remita, which implements the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy for a 1 percent commission.
While asking the company, which is allegedly owned by a top South West All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, to return the sum of N2.5 trillion allegedly collected so far by Remita to the Federal Government, the lawmakers also mandated its committees on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions, and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation and report back in two weeks.
The Senate also called for the prosecution of all directors of the company in accordance to the provisions of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA).
These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye and 31 other senators entitled “Abuse and Management of the TSA Regime.”
Leading debate on the motion, Sen Melaye noted that “the Federal Government on 15th of September 2015 mopped up the sum of N2.5 trillion through its e-collection agent called Remita. Remita charges 1 percent of all monies passing through it, the implication of which 1 percent of the N2.5 trillion mopped up on the 15th of September alone amounted to N25 billion largesse to Remita for doing nothing.
“The appointment of Remita as an agent for the operations of the TSA negates and contravenes the constitution. The activities of Remita is a gross violation of the BOFIA Act and another attempt of ripping Nigerians of tax payers money.”
The motion, which was widely supported by senators, who noted that the CBN is the sole institution that is mandated to collect and disbursed monies on behalf of the Federal Government.
Contributing to the debate, the leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, expressed surprise that such a deal could be entered into during the present administration which has zero tolerance for corruption.
He said, “I didn’t believe that this could happen under this government. However, if it is true, the people involved are saboteurs, and must be compelled to return the money, and face the wrath of the law”.
In his own debate, the deputy leader, Senator Ibn Na’Allah, urged the Senate to unravel all the players in the deal.
“Some people hide in the umbrella of consultancy to defraud the nation, and resort to social media. The 8th Senate is distinct, and must do what is right, and in accordance with the law.
“The 8th Senate will not subject itself to public referendum through the social media. I want to assure Nigerians that the 8th Senate will bring whoever that is involved, and hunt him down,” he stated.
In his submission, Senator Akpan Bassey noted that the issue amongst others have contributed to unemployment issues, 98 percent of of which are youths.
“I will personally lead the youths of this country on a protest against this present administration, if nothing is done to address the current state. We must rise! That is a total of N25 million in one day, and it is now N65 million,” he added.
Calling for a probe devoid of partisan politics, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said, “When matters like this come up, it is no longer treated as partisan; otherwise, I would have asked: where is the promised change? When the investigations are done, let us make it known because someone would have given this instruction. We need to know that person, who is so powerful.
“Somebody made this decision, and we must ask, who gave this order? Who is that person in this country that is so powerful to direct MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) to pay money into a private account?
“We should not cover anybody in this investigation, no matter how highly placed. We are hearing that the money has gone up to N60 billion. One company is taking N60 billion of our money,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki said the era of Nigeria losing money to individuals is over.
“This is a very important subject matter. We hope that the committee will do a very diligent job that will come up to standard and quantify the nature of the motion. The committee has to quicken investigation because it is no longer acceptable for Nigeria to lose money to private organisations,” he added.
The Senate adjourned plenary to next Tuesday, November, 17th.
Source : Leadership