Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Chairman of the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has pledged the determination of the committee to continue its ongoing investigation into alleged N30tillion revenue scam in the import and export chain.
According to a statement by the committeeâ€™s media consultant, Mr. Duro Meseko, Uzodimma said this after meeting with some of the invited companies in Abuja yesterday where he added that the interest of the Senate in the investigation was to assist the government to recover monies trapped in the import and export chain.
â€˜â€™There are allegations that the investigation is borne out of personal interest. â€˜Once a Senate in a committee of the whole passes a resolution such as this, it cannot be termed as the decision of a single senator. You may not like my face as a person but it is important to look at the credibility of the work we are doing.â€
â€˜â€™This is so that together we will succeed in making sure that the import export circle is sanitised, trade is facilitated and non-oil revenue is recovered and strengthened. In that manner, government will not rely so much on oil, and with that, whether crude oil is sold or not,â€™â€™ Uzodimma said.
The senator further stated that while some detractors had alleged that the investigation was a sham, some of the indicted companies had started refunding money running into billions of naira to the federal government
â€˜â€™As a result of this investigation, the banks which are the authorised dealers in the export and import chain have been making effort to remit everything collected by them to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). We are doing this on a friendly note because we do not want to send a wrong signal to the market. Although more funds other than the N120 billion I announced some time ago have been recovered but because we do not want to send the wrong signal we are limited 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, â€˜â€™ he said.
Uzodimma explained that the committee was saving the figures till the end of the investigation because some of the companies were quoted on the capital market and would not want to send panic to the market.
He also explained that the committee resorted to interfacing with individual companies rather than meeting with them in group, adding that the strategy had yielded positive result.
â€œThe 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 make these recoveries. Through this investigation we have helped 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 of infractions we confronted them withâ€ Uzodimma disclosed.
The chairman called for the support relevant stakeholders including the media in the ongoing investigation.
He added that the country would not be able to make the necessary progress if Nigerians were not committed in ensurimg that national interest was continually protected.
Uzodimma said though Nigeria was populated enough to be known as the giant of Africa, there was a need for commensurate commitment by citizens.