Reps Discover $996m Hidden by Agencies in Banks
By Dipo Olowookere
Some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of federal government have been accused of operating accounts different from the authorised Treasury Single Account (TSA), with the sole aim of short-changing the country of generated revenues.
An Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Ascertain the Proceeds of the TSA to Enhance Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance set up by the House of Representatives claimed it had uncovered about $995.7 million not remitted to the coffers of government by these MDAs.
According to the committee, these MDAs have failed to follow the TSA policy, leading to revenue leakages.
It accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigeria Customs Service as well as other ministries and banks of various infractions.
The House asked the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria should intensify efforts to enforce full implementation and compliance with the TSA policy by all the MDAs.
It also wants the MDAs who had violated the TSA policy to be sanctioned accordingly.
Quoting from the report on Friday, online news platform, Premium Times said the lawmakers ordered that the Ministry of Finance and OAGF “should be directed to publish, sanction/prosecute with immediate effect all MDAs, private persons, private organisations as well as banks, where FGN funds are hidden based on the discoveries made in the report of the consultants engaged by the OAGF and review the compliance with the TSA.”
The lawmakers said applications for exemptions/waivers must follow the guidelines on TSA implementation and duly approved and signed by the president only. Presenting the report, the chairman of the committee, Danduram Abubakar, said during the investigations, overwhelming discoveries were made.
According to him, it was observed that funds belonging to the federal government to the tune of billions of naira and hundreds of millions of dollars were operated outside the TSA by the MDAs in collaboration with the banks.
“After the meeting with Deposit Money Banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on August 15, 2017, the committee discovered that over $900 million is still being held outside the TSA.
“While some banks fully complied with the directive of the ad hoc committee by remitting these funds into the TSA, it is worthy of note that the sum of about $995.71 million was still held outside the TSA by some other banks. This sum of $995.71 million includes the principal deposit and the accrued interest on the deposit. Also discovered was an amount of N1.207 billion and €23,704.01,” he explained.
The lawmakers agreed that “the issues bordering on the Nigerian Ports Authority fund totalling €6,626,429.59 seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should be resolved immediately and the funds released to the appropriate owner. The EFCC should be informed in writing to immediately refund the same amount into the TSA account with the CBN.”
The NNPC was also asked to make full disclosures on the nature and status of the fund held in the NNPC Pension Fund Limited domiciled in Aso Savings and Loans Plc and Unity Bank.