Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki

The Senate, Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber has said it will continue with the ongoing inquiry into infractions by some firms and agencies that led to the loss of over N30trillion revenue that would have accrued to the Federal Government.

Chairman, Joint Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who spoke in Abuja, told newsmen that the committee would continue with the ongoing probe of allegations of revenue leakages and diversion in the port industry to the tune of N30 trillion despite blackmail in some quarters with a view to recovering same for the government.

The chairman had recently raised the alarm that some powerful Nigerians were deploying every arsenal at their disposal to discredit the work of the committee, which he said was in the overall national interest, insisting that it cannot be intimidated by anyone no matter how highly placed.

According to him, most of such funds were trapped in the course of import and export transactions among the various stakeholders, insisting that the inquiry was neither borne out of vendetta nor personal interest rather in the overriding interest of the Nigerian nation.

He hinted that the decision of the upper legislative chamber to commence the investigation followed the passage of a resolution to that effect, which therefore forecloses any personal or group interest rather than national

He said: “The Senate in a committee passed a resolution on the inquiry, so it cannot possibly be termed as the decision of a single senator. You might not like my face as a person, but it is important to look at the credibility of the work being done by the committee. The essence of the probe is to ensure that the entire import and export value chain is sanitised, promote trade facilitation and further boost non-oil revenue, which the country needs now to grow the economy”

He further disclosed that some companies have already refunded billions of naira to the surprise of those that have before discredited the work of the committee.

“As a result of this investigation, the designated dealer banks for import and export transactions are currently making effort to remit every revenue they collected to the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN. We are however doing this on a friendly basis because we do not want to send a wrong signal to the banking public. Though more funds other than the N120billion announced by the committee some time ago have been recovered but because we do not want to send the wrong signal, we are constrained to speak further on how much has been recovered so far. However, we will definitely come up with the figures recovered at the end of the investigation”, the chairman also said.

He said that the strategy of meeting the individual companies directly instead of doing so in group has helped the committee in its efforts to recover the funds and plug all loopholes.

Uzodinma  also said: “The companies are now free to admit and some of them have promised to make payments. Today alone, three companies came with receipts of payment. If we did not embark on this investigation, we would not have made these recoveries”.

“Through this investigation also, we have assisted the Federal Government to recover some money and we are sure that government will recover more money because we have detailed information that will aid more recovery. The companies so far are no longer contesting most of the documents that we have tendered before them showing these lapses”