SARAKIThe Senate has begun investigation into what it termed abuse and mismanagement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) regime and urged the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend further payment into the TSA.

The Senate observed that the appointment of REMITA – an e-collection agent – is a gross violation of Section 162 (1) of the 1999 Constitution and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2007.

Describing the 1 per cent charges by REMITA as an attempt to rip Nigerians of taxpayer’s moneys, it alleged that the company realised over N25 billion in one day as 1 per cent of monies transferred.

This was sequel to a motion sponsored by Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) and co-sponsored by 35 others. Melaye observed that in the course of the operations of the TSA, the Federal Government on September 15, 2015 mopped up the sum of N2.5 trillion through its e-collection agent, REMITA, which charges 1 per cent of all monies passing through it, amounting to N25 billion. Some of the senators who contributed to the motion insisted that a third party like REMITA was not needed to ensure compliance with the TSA policy, let alone realising N25 billion in one day.

Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, expressed surprise that a company could have been paid that much just to transfer money to the CBN, saying no matter the platform utilised, the amount was too much and as such must be investigated.

Bassey Akpan, a banker of over 12 years experience, wondered why such amount would go to private pockets when there was total collapse of road network and other infrastructure in the country. He described the development as the height of criminality, saying: “We don’t need a third party to ensure compliance on TSA”.

On his part, Senator Eyinanya Abaribe alleged that over N60 billion was realised by the company, urging senators to go beyond party lines to handle such issues bordering on corruption and ripping off the common wealth of Nigerians. “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 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?,” he asked.

Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, stressed that no more should the nation allow any company to hide under the role of consultancy to charge outrageously for services rendered.

However, some of the over 19 senators who contributed to the motion urged the Senate not to conclude yet until the committee was done with its investigations.

Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), urged the Senate not to act on rumours but carry out proper investigations.

In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who took over from the deputy president of the Senate mid-way into plenary, charged the committee to ensure that it carried out extensive investigation.

Besides calling for the immediate return of all monies that had accrued the e-collection agent, the lawmakers called for immediate prosecution of all directors of REMITA in accordance with the BOFIA. The Senate therefore mandated the Committees of Finance, Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions and Public Account to carry out a holistic investigation on the matter and report back in four weeks.

It would be recalled that in pursuant of the TSA, the Federal Government on September 15 directed all its MDAs to close their various accounts with commercial banks and pay all revenues into its account with the CBN. By the policy directive, all revenue-generating agencies of the Federal Government such as the Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Bureau of Public Enterprises, etc, were to pay all revenues collected for and on behalf of the Federal Government into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

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