House of Reps Query CBN Over Alleged Missing $60b Tax Revenue
The investigation is sequel to a petition by Mr. Fidelis Uzonwani, a chartered accountant with Synergy Resources Nigeria Limited, who told the panel that
“from 2004 to 2016, over $60 billion of PPT and royalty revenues were unaccounted for by the CBN.’’
According to him, the CBN and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) failed to appear before members of the committee to defend their submissions upon realising that their secrets had been uncovered.
“We discovered that something was going wrong and we approached the CBN to take actions to remedy those infractions, but it remained adamant probably that is how they benefit from the system.
“They have engaged in forgery, and when in 2017 they were asked to produce the documents they made available to the Federal Government since 2006, they started manipulating them with computers.
“We discovered that the CBN adds naira and dollar into one column to arrive at a total. It is even to the extent of taking money outside an account to a secret account and returning same at the end of the month after earning secret interests,’’ Uzonwani alleged.
The chairman of the committee, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (Abia-PDP) expressed worry over the failure of CBN and FIRS to appear to defend their submissions.
“Because the CBN, FIRS and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) have repeatedly failed to appear before this committee, we will be left with no option than to work with materials before us.
“We will conduct a public hearing on the matter and compel them to appear because what we are trying to do is to have a situation where all the loopholes for leakages are blocked,” he said.
Meanwhile, the adhoc committee investigating alleged N6 trillion revenue leakages in the oil and gas sector and the activities of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has uncovered how some international oil companies (IOCs), in collaboration with some domestic oil firms, shortchanged Nigeria of necessary revenues.
Companies, including Exxon Mobil, Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Shell Petroleum Company Limited (SPDC), Total Nigeria, and even the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), were all found wanting at an investigative hearing of the panel yesterday.
The panel summoned the managing directors of all the companies listed in the probe, following a motion to that effect by Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo).
The PDP members of the House kicked against consideration of 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
In a motion, the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, had urged his colleagues to debate and approve the framework ahead of the consideration of 2018 budget estimates, but the opposition members said the request violated the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007. The law requires that the document be considered four months before the presentation of the following year’s budget estimates.
In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun, who had announced that the debate would continue today due to low turn out of members, referred the document to five committees whose mandates are related to the issue. They are to examine the document and report back to the House for further action.