Senate yesterday ordered immediate investigation into the N250billion commission allegedly being paid daily to an e-collection agent, REMITA in charge of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, introduced for ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs by the present administration.
The upper legislative chamber also urged Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Federal Ministry of Finance to suspend further payment into the TSA and commission into the firm’s account.
This was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) and co-sponsored by 35 others.
Specifically, the senate observed that the appointment of REMITA is a gross violation of Section 162 (1) of the 1999 Constitution and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, BOFIA 2007.
Describing the one percent charges by REMITA as an attempt to rip Nigerians of task payers’ monies, it alleged that the company realised over N25billion in one day as one per cent of monies transferred.
The Senators in the motion recalled that in pursuance of the TSA, the Federal Government on 15th September directed all its MDAs to close their various accounts with commercial banks and pay all revenues into its account with the CBN under the policy of Treasury Single Account.
They said by the policy directive, all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government such as the Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Bureau of Public Enterprises etc, are to pay all revenues collected for and on behalf of the Federal Government into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The upper chamber observed that in the course of the operations of the TSA, the federal government on 15 September, 2015 mopped up the sum of N2.5trillion through its e-collection agent called REMITA who charges one percent of all monies passing through it, amounting to N25billion.
Besides calling for the immediate return of all monies that had accrued to the e-collection agent, lawmakers called for immediate prosecution of all directors of REMITA in accordance with the BOFIA.
It therefore mandated the Committees on Finance, Banking and Other Financial Institutions and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation on the matter and report back in four weeks.
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 N25billion in one day.
Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) expressed surprise that a company could have been paid that much just to transfer money to the CBN. He said that no matter the platform utilised, the amount was too much and as such must be investigated.
“Let us take this seriously and I hope that after investigation, if it is true that somebody is involved in this, then he is a saboteur trying to do things like it was done in the past”, he stressed.
Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North East), a banker of over 12 years, wondered why such amount would go to private pockets when there is total collapse of road network and other infrastructure in the country.
On his part, Senator Eyinanya Abaraibe (PDP Abia South) 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 of 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 stated.
Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), 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 is done with its investigations.
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central) urged the Senate not to act on rumours but carry out proper investigations before taking definite position on the matter.