The Chairman, House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Treasury Single Account (TSA), Hon. Abubakar Nuhu, on Tuesday said the committee discovered that banks are still holding on to public funds amounting to about N50 billion outside the TSA in violation of a circular from the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) which directed that all public funds domiciled in banks be transferred to respective accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The banks, however, reportedly cited an approval from President Muhammadu Buhari which allowed them to still hold on to the accounts.
The CBN Director, Banking & Payments, Dipo Fatokun, who appeared before the committee, said though some accounts including that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)/Joint Venture Accounts had approvals to be operated outside TSA, he was not aware of any such approval from the president allowing for the accounts to be operated separate from the TSA.
Asked if the CBN was aware that such accounts were still being run outside the TSA, the CBN Director said: “The only approval that I am aware of is that of NNPC/JV; I saw that approval from the presidency…apart from that approval, there’s no other presidential approval that I’m aware of.”
He added that some of the reasons adduced by banks for retaining some accounts include excuses that some accounts are under court processes while others including those of the judiciary and the National Assembly are expressly exempted from the TSA for some reasons.
Also, at yesterday’s meeting, the committee summoned chief executives of banks and other government institutions to appear before it for the last time next Wednesday or risk the consequences.
The chairman noted that their continued absence appeared to constitute a stumbling block to ongoing investigations on alleged infractions in the implementation of the TSA.
He said: “I wish to state with dismay that none of the chief executives of invited organisations seemed to be present.
“If people don’t respect our invitation, we will not hesitate to use other means and the constitutional powers that we have to compel people to appear before this committee.”
He said: “We are not against any operation of any account outside TSA provided the relevant approval is being given or the approval is there in place.
“So, for the banks that are here, they should take note of this. Banks chief executive will have to appear before us with evidence as regards the approval from Mr. President to operate accounts outside the TSA.”