Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has begun investigation into the allegation of unappropriated spendings totalling N567billion, made by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS from January 2005 till date.
This followed a petition by Ngozika Ihuoma, the Executive Secretary, Legislative Watch, a non-govermental organisation, NGO, as part of the ongoing investigations into various petitions before the committee.
In a petition dated August 13, 2015 to the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the petitioner contended that contrary to Section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), both agencies have failed to render account of the utilisation of Cost of Collection from January 2005 till date.
Section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that:”Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the local government councils in each state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly”.
The petition titled: “Re: Investigation of Utilisation of 7% Cost of Collection Paid to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and 4% Paid to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from Federation Account from 2005 to Date”, posited that both federal agencies have been shortchanging the federal government without appropriation from the National Assembly.
According to Ihuoma, this development formed part of leakages to the Federation Account and therefore called on the committee to investigate the utilisation of the 7% Cost of Collection released to the Nigeria Customs Service from January 2005 till date.
The organisation also asked the Committee to investigate the utilisation of 4 per cent Cost of Collection released to FIRS in the same period under review.
Specifically, Ihuoma accused the Comptroller-General of Customs for “using 7% of Cost of Collection to buy houses for private uses”.
Attaching a copy of the Summary of Gross Revenue Allocation by the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, he revealed that both agencies refused to remit over N567bn to the Federation Account.
A Federal Ministry of Finance document presented to the Committee by the petitioner indicated that the average monthly collection cost of the NCS is N2.5 billion which puts the total amount not remitted by NCS over the period 126 months (January 2005 to July 2015) at N315billion.
In the same vein, the document showed that the average monthly Cost of Collection of the FIRS is N2 billion which puts the total amount not remitted by FIRS over the same period at N252billion. This puts the Cost of Collection for both agencies at N567billion.
Ihuoma noted that by Modification Order of 2004, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the payment in line with constitutional provisions.
In his response, Chairman of the Committee , Senator Samuel Anyanwu said heads of both agencies would be invited to respond to the petitions against them on a later date.