How Okonjo-Iweala’s memo led to N1.7tn revenue loss – Senate

Okonjo

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Alleged Misuse, Under-Remittance and Other Fraudulent Activities has said unremitted revenue generated by agencies between 2012 and 2016 amount to N1.7trn.

The panel blamed it on a memo by a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

She allegedly issued the memo to the agencies to remit 25 per cent of revenue they generated to the Federal Government and spend 75 per cent on their expenditures.

This was contained in an interim report by the committee chaired by Senator Olamilekan Adeola, which was laid before the Senate last week Thursday.

The panel said the amount to be remitted to the Federal Government during the period by 93 agencies it investigated was N21.5tn.

It alleged that 25 of the 93 agencies covered defrauded the government of a total of N1,695,585,887,406.

The committee said the agencies complied with a directive by Okonjo-Iweala via a memo dated November 11, 2011, “to remit 25 per cent only from the revenue generated and use the remaining 75 per cent, which is a clear violation of Section 120 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as well as the establishment acts of some of these institutions.”

According to the panel, in the report, the Nigeria Customs Service, which generated N335.855bn, failed to remit N83.963bn during the period under review.

The report also indicted the Federal Inland Revenue Service, which generated N455.5bn but allegedly failed to remit N33.83bn.

Others indicted by the panel are the Central Bank of Nigeria, remitting N13.716bn out of N3.098tn; NIMASA, N184.489bn out of N301.160bn; Nigerian Television Authority, N5.567bn out of N56.817bn.

The report read in part, “Most of the revenue generating agencies deny the Auditor General of the Federation access to their financial books and records, which is in conflict with Section 125, Subsection (3) a (i and ii); and Subsection (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Consequently, the committee recommends as follows: that the Senate should amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident auditors to be posted by the Auditor General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books, and to ensure compliance with Section 120(i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act should be amended in a way to compel all agencies and institutions of government on compliance with financial regulations regarding income generation, accounting and remittances.

“The Senate should also amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident treasury officers to be posted by the Accountant General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books.”

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