Group sues agency chiefs for mismanaged, unremitted N289 billion
• Urges police, EFCC, ICPC collaboration to recover funds
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has sued some heads of Federal Government agencies and commissions for alleged mismanagement and non-remittance of cumulative N289 billion by 17 organisations, which contravenes some provisions of the Finance Circular of November 11, 2011, on internally generated revenues (IGR).
According to the Group, the failure to remit the revenues also disregarded the recommendations of the Auditor-General of the Federation in the Annual Report and Accounts of the nation for the year 2017, which stated that the funds should be remitted into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
Speaking during a virtual media parley, Lead Director, CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, said Nigeria is currently undergoing a fiscal crisis and does not have the money to meet its basic needs as a nation, and therefore should not have huge chunks of public funds in the hands of individuals who are not supposed to keep them.
He maintained that the CSJ is pursuing the cases to ensure that public funds are properly put in the treasury, and made use of for public purposes.
He called for collaboration between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and Nigerian Police Force in investigating and recovering the unremitted revenues.
Amongst the agency chiefs being sued are: the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/368/2020, at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 8), for allegedly failing to remit over N2.297 billion, or 25 per cent of the IGR realised in 2015 and 2016.
The Director-General was also sued in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/374/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 7), for not remitting about N160 million to the CRF, being the interest from the investment of over N5.9 billion into Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) by the Commission, as required by Federal Treasury Circular No: TRY/A5&B5/2009 OAGF/CAD/026/V.32 of June 19, 2009.
Also, the Director-General, Centre for Management Development (CMD), was sued in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/369/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 10), for not remitting over N59.2 million into the CRF, being 25 per cent of the IGR realised in 2016, which contravenes the provision of Federal Ministry of Finance’s circular on revenue, expenditure, and IGR remittance into the CRF dated December 8, 2015.
The circular stipulated that all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) that are fully funded through the annual Federal Government budget should remit 100 per cent of their IGR into the CRF.
The circular also stipulates that all partially-funded Agencies and Parastatals should limit their annual budgetary expenditure to not more than 75 per cent of their gross revenue, remit 25 per cent into the CRF, or pay 80 per cent of their Operating Surplus, computed according to the approved template, as also recommended by the Auditor-General.
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), was sued in Suit Number:FHC/ABJ/CS/372/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 8), for not granting CSJ access to the details of the documents evidencing the recovery and remittance of N14.720 billion to the CRF, in accordance with Auditor-General’s recommendations.
The fund was said to be the proceeds from the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) from the banks, which was to be remitted into CRF as communicated by the office of the Auditor-General on April 19, 2018.
Also, in another Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/376/2020 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 5), the Bureau was asked for access to documents evidencing the remittance of over N263 billion ($679 million), being the yearly rent of 23 companies that were granted concessional rent of various ports under the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), for over 10 years, payable to NPA as at December 31, 2016.
CSJ, in yet another Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/379/2020 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 8), also asked for access to the evidence showing that the Bureau recovered and remitted the sum of N7.585 billion into the CRF, being the 80 per cent operating surplus for the years 2012 to 2016, due to be remitted into the CRF but was not.
Similarly, the Director-General, National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), in Suit Number: FHC/ABJ/CS/370/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 7), was sued to provide evidence of the remittance to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the sum of N135 million, deducted as Withholding Tax (WHT), and Value Added Tax (VAT), from the payments made to contractors in respect to the supply of goods and services.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), was sued at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 9) in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/371/2020, was sued to provide the documents evidencing the remittance of N98 million into the CRF, being the sum raised under the Recurrent and Capital expenditure votes, but were not made available despite repeated demands by the Office of the Auditor-General.
Also, the Director-General, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/373/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 10), was sued to provide the evidence of the remittance of about N38 million to FIRS, consisting N18.6 million for VAT, and
N19.4 million for WHT deducted from payments made to contractors.
In another Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/560/2020 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 9), the NAPTIN boss was also sued to provide evidence of the remittance of about N206.6 million to CRF, being the balance of 25 per cent of the institute’s N866.4 IGR, realised in 2015 and 2016, which only N9.9 million was remitted. Meanwhile, at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 5), in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/375/2020, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), was sued to provide evidence that the vehicles illegally allocated to the Personal Assistant to the Executive Secretary; Former Chairman, House Committee; Federal Ministry of Health; and Former Executive Secretary, have been recovered, and their depreciated value while in illegal custody have been remitted into the CRF.
Similarly, the Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, was sued at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 7) in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/377/2020, to provide evidence of the remittance of about N603 million into CRF, being 25 per cent of the N2.4 billion IGR the institution realised in 2016 and 2017, which was not remitted.
Just as the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Teachers’ Registration Council, was sued at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 5) in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/380/2020, sued to provide evidence of the remittance of about N355 million, being 25 per cent of the N1.4 billion IGR realised in 2016 and 2017, of which N1.5 million was contract registration and tender fees, and was to be remitted completely to the CRF, but was not.
Finally, the Controller-General, Nigerian Correctional Service, in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/381/2020 at the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 10), was sued to provide details of the documentation evidencing the remittance of N582.7 million to the National Housing Fund (NHF), which was deducted from the salaries of officers of the Service between January and December 2017, but was not remitted to the appropriate authority. Analysts are hopeful that something meaningful will result from the suits in the spirit of probity and accountability, the given fight against corruption.