Oscar Chukwugekwu, Abuja
The probe light of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was beamed towards the duo of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for the agencies’ inability to remit the total sum of N567 billion cost of collection.
This followed a petition by the Executive Secretary, Legislative Watch, a non- governmental organisation, Ngozika Ihuoma.
According to a petition dated August 13, 2015, and addressed to the Senate President, Senator 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.
This development, he said, formed part of leakages to the Federation Account.
He, therefore, called on the Committee to investigate the utilisation of the 7 percent Cost of Collection released to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from January 2005 till date.
The organisation also asked the Committee to investigate the utilisation of 4 percent cost of collection released to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the same period under review.
Specifically, he accused the Comptroller-General of Customs for “using 7 percent 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 N567 billion 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 N315 billion.
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 N252 billion.
This puts the cost of collection for both agencies at N567 billion.
He 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 on a later date.
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