- N2.8tn Probe: Reps Threaten Absentee Bank CEOs, Others With Bench Warrant
The House of Representatives has threatened to issue a bench warrant against the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami; Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris; and managing directors/chief executive officers of Deposit Money Banks.
An ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the alleged non-remittance of stamp duty deductions sat in Abuja on Wednesday, where Malami, Idris and the CEOs were either absent or represented.
The House had on April 25, 2019, resolved to “mandate the set up of an ad hoc committee to urgently investigate the non-remittance of trillions into the Federation Account of TSA and report back to the House within four weeks.”
This was after the lawmakers adopted a motion that condemned the stamp duty charges imposed on Nigerians for their banking transactions.
The lawmakers had especially accused banks who made the deductions of non-remittance of about N2.8tn to Federal Government coffers, contravening the Treasury Single Account policy.
At the sitting on Wednesday, the panel, however, dismissed the representatives as not eligible to speak for their respective organisations and bosses.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Ahmad Abubakar, said, “We can see that the Office of the Accountant-General and the Office of Attorney-General are conspicuously not here.”
He stated that those absent from the hearing had critical roles to play in the deliberations and final decisions to be taken by the lawmakers.
Abubakar added, “The chief executive officers of all agencies are supposed to be here. If by any reason they cannot attend, we expected their written authority, authorising somebody, not below the executive management level; even that is with the authority from the CEO. Otherwise, the organisation will be deemed not to have been here, and it is a serious matter.
“After this hearing, if it needs issuing a bench warrant, we are going to do that; This is a very serious issue. My colleagues are here and this will be our resolve. I don’t know whether most of the people that are here are below these two categories — either the CEO or executive director. We want people who can take critical decisions on behalf of their organisations. I don’t want you to come here and something is resolved, later the CEO would say ‘I am not here and I cannot…’ Whatever is the decision here is binding.”
Also, a member of the committee, Mr Danburam Nuhu, also criticised those who failed to attend the hearing.
“I can see from the roll call that only three banks are represented by somebody from their executive management. Those banks are Polaris, GTBank and Sterling Bank. All other banks don’t have somebody from their executive management.
“As clearly stated by you, Mr Chairman, it is the position of the committee to assume that they are not present at this hearing. It is clear that if the committee chooses to give another date, at the end of the day, they are still not present. I think the next thing as you clearly stated is that we go ahead and issue a bench warrant against the CEOs of the banks. That means that we will arrest them and compel them to be here,” he said.
Another member of the panel, Mr Adekunle Akinlade, consequently moved a motion that any agency or organisation without the CEO in attendance and without an executive director with a written mandate to represent them should be considered absent from the hearing.
The motion was seconded and unanimously adopted by other members of the panel.
In his ruling, Nuhu said the representatives in attendance, most of whom did not meet the criteria set by the lawmakers, would be allowed to remain as spectators without their submissions taken.
Meanwhile, the Postmaster-General, Mr Bisi Adegbuyi, told the committee that a plethora of cases at the Supreme Court and inter-agency rivalry between the Nigerian Postal Service and the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission were frustrating the remittance of an estimated N2.8tn stamp duty funds.
According to Adegbuyi, banks are hiding behind the various conflicting court cases on the issue of stamp duty by not remitting the amounts collected to the Federal Government accounts.
In his submission, the acting Chairman of the RMFAC, Mr Casmir Anyanwu, said that it was the commission’s mandate to recover the stamp duties.
“The role of the commission in the collection of stamp duties is to ensure that the fund is remitted by the banks and that the circular of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the collection of stamp duties on every electronic transaction above N1, 000 be complied with; that the N50 deducted by the banks be promptly remitted to the Federation Account, verify and remit any outstanding amount from the banks. That is what we are doing at the moment.”
However, the acting Director, Banking Services, CBN, Mr Abubakar Kure, said remittances to the apex bank stood at N35bn.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
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