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Okonjo-Iweala Ex-Minister's memo resulted in N1.7tn revenue loss - Senate

As a result of a memo issued by the ex-minister, 25 agencies defrauded the government of N1.7 trillion in four years.

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joins Twitter's Board of Directors play Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Guardian)

A Senate ad-hoc committee has accused former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of responsibility for the loss of N1.7 trillion as unremitted revenue generated between 2012 and 2016.

The Committee on Alleged Misuse, Under-Remittance and Other Fraudulent Activities alleged that the former minister had issued a memo, dated November 11, 2011, to government agencies to only remit 25% of revenue they generated and spend 75% on their expenditures.

According to a report by The Punch, the amount that was supposed to have been remitted to the Federal Government during the period by 93 agencies it investigated was N21.5 trillion.

The memo is blamed for the low remittance of revenue to the Federal Government within the period under probe  as 25 of the 93 agencies defrauded the government of a total of N1,695,585,887,406.

According to the panel, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) operated at a deficit of N3.1 trillion, while the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which generated N335.855 billion, failed to remit N83.963 billion to the Federal Government during the four-year period.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) also allegedly failed to remit N33.83 billion after generating N455.5 billion, while the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) reportedly remitted N86.636 billion even though it generated N789.104 billion.

Others indicted by the panel include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), remitting N13.716 billion out of N3.098 trillion generated; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), N184.489 billion out of N301.160 billion; and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), N5.567 billion out of N56.817 billion.

In its interim report, the committee argued that the memo "is a clear violation of Section 120 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as well as the establishment acts of some of these institutions."

The committee recommended to the Senate to amend the necessary laws to compel all agencies and institutions of government to comply with all financial regulations.

The report read, "Most of the revenue generating agencies deny the Auditor General of the Federation access to their financial books and records, which is in conflict with Section 125, Subsection (3) a (i and ii); and Subsection (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

"Consequently, the committee recommends as follows: that the Senate should amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident auditors to be posted by the Auditor General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books, and to ensure compliance with Section 120(i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

"The Fiscal Responsibility Act should be amended in a way to compel all agencies and institutions of government on compliance with financial regulations regarding income generation, accounting and remittances.

"The Senate should also amend the laws where necessary to make it mandatory for all revenue generating agencies to accommodate resident treasury officers to be posted by the Accountant General of the Federation that will have access to all financial records and books."

ALSO READ: Okonjo-Iweala reveals how FG can defeat corruption

Chairman of the committee, Senator Olamilekan Adeola, presented the interim report before the Senate on Thursday, October 19, 2017.

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