Former Chairman of SURE-P, Dr. Christopher Kolade and others have been fingered in the N25 billion illegal transactions involving the recently-concluded transmission of the Federal Government’s revenues into the Treasury Single Account, which was domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the Senate on Wednesday alleged that some illegal transactions took place during the recently-concluded transmission of the Federal Government’s revenues into the Treasury Single Account, which was domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The upper chamber has therefore ordered three of its committees to immediately begin the probe of the alleged fraudulent transactions.
The senators in plenary noted with concern that the transaction was contracted to a firm, REMITA, an e-collection agent, which collected one per cent of the entire N2.5tn revenues paid into the TSA as commission.
They further alleged that the one per cent payment translated to N25bn earned by REMITA from the transactions.
They argued that the action was a gross violation of Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
Apart from this, they maintained that the N25bn paid to the company was not all that had so far been paid to REMITA, because payment to the company since then had remained a continuous process.
REMITA is a subsidiary of SystemSpecs which has Dr. Kolade as Chairman Board of Directors. Others include, John Obaro, Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, former Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications(NCC).
In deciding to probe the transactions, the Upper Chamber had stated that Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the federation shall maintain a special account to be called ‘the Federation Account’ into which all revenues collected by the government of the federation, should be paid.
They however said proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with foreign affairs and the residents of the FCT, Abuja, were exempted.
The senators further argued that going by the provision, all revenues accruable to the Federal Government ought to be paid directly to the TSA as the case may be and not shared with anybody.
The Senate, on the strength of the argument, therefore mandated its Joint Committee on Finance, Banking and other financial institutions and Public Account to carry out a holistic investigation into the transaction and report its findings within four weeks.
It also directed the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN to suspend forthwith, payment to the consultant firm, REMITA, until the outcome of the investigation was made public.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye, who moved the motion, said he was aware that by the policy directive, all agencies generating revenues for the government were to pay all revenues they generated to the consolidated revenue fund.
Melaye said: “The Senate observes that in the course of the operations of the TSA, the Federal Government on the 15th of September, 2015 mopped up the sum of N2.5tn through its e-collection agent called REMITA.
“The agent which charges one per cent of all monies passing through it, the implication of which one per cent of the N2.5trn mopped up on 15th September, 2015 alone amounted to N25bn largesse to REMITA for doing nothing.”
Melaye also said that the appointment of REMITA as operation agent for the TSA was illegal because it contravened the provision of Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
He said given the constitutional provision, the CBN remained the sole institution mandated to collect and disburse monies on behalf of the Federal Government and that “where it has no branch, it may appoint another bank as an agent to perform the function.”
He argued that using REMITA which “is not a registered bank, completely offends the CBN Act.”
He also described the development as a violation of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act of 2007 which, according to him, “provides that no person(s) shall carry out any banking business in Nigeria unless the company is incorporated in Nigeria and holds a valid licence under the Act.”