The Senate on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately terminate the contract awarded to a private firm REMITA for the implementation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy at 1% commission.
According to Leadership the Senate while asking its committees on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions, and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation and report back in two weeks, asked the firm, which is allegedly owned by a top South West member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to return the sum of N2.5 trillion which has allegedly been collected so far.
The Senate also asked for the prosecution of all members of REMITA’s board of directors according to the provisions of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA).
The Senate’s decision came after Senator Dino Melaye, supported by 31 other senators moved a motion titled “Abuse and Management of the TSA Regime.”
In his debate on the motion, Senator Melaye said 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.”
On his part, the Majority Senate Leader, Ali Ndume expressed surprised at the revelation given that the President assumed office on the back of no-tolerance for corruption campaign.
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”.
Speaking on the matter, the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Na’Allah, said: “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.”
Also contributing to the debate was Senator Akpan Bassey who posited thus: “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.”
On his part, Senator Eyinnaya 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.”
In his concluding remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said “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.”