Senators Disagree over Alleged Non-remittance of NPA’s N177bn Operational Surplus

0
  • Confirm Olukoyede as EFCC scribe

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senators were sharply divided Wednesday over the authenticity or otherwise of the alleged non remittance of N177billion operational surplus made by the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) into the consolidated federation account.

As the Senate resumed plenary, a member of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Mohammed Hassan (Yobe South), drew the attention of the Senate to the allegation through a motion moved in accordance with Senate standing orders 42 and 52 .

In moving the motion, Hassan emphasised that against the spirits and provisions of the 1999 Constitution and extant laws of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the agency kept to itself N177billion operational surplus it made from accruing revenues in the 2017 fiscal year without remitting it into the federation account.

According to him, the committee discovered that the agency, in its budget defence of the performance of the 2017 budget in April this year, got N303billion as total operational revenue out of which N125billion was taken by it as operational cost as allowed by extant laws but refused to remit the balance of N177billion realised as surplus into the federation account

He went further to say: “This, to me, and by extension, the Senate, should not be condoned because the Committee discovered this seven months ago and ordered the agency to do the needful which it has not done up till now.

“Attention of the Senate is being drawn to this impunity because six months down the line, the agency has not complied with the directive of the committee or communicated to it on the matter in anyway.”

Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South), at this point, cautioned the Senate from believing the allegation made by Hassan, saying there are three categories of income derivable into accounts of any public agency .

He therefore advised the Senate that it would be premature for it to attach legislative seriousness to Hassan’s allegation since the figures he quoted are not clear to be in the category of perceived income, drive income or accrued income.

“Mr. President (Senate president), as a lawyer, I studied taxation law, so we should not be in haste to conclude on the submission Hassan has just made,” Na’Allah said.

Hassan’s allegation against the NPA was further punctured when the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Sani Yerima ( Zamfara West), disassociated himself and other committee members from the allegation.

According to Yerima, Hassan, as a member of the committee, did not raise the issue at any of the committee sittings before raising the alarm on the floor of the Senate.

“As chairman of the committee, I am not aware of this allegation raised against NPA by Hassan, and I don’t think any other member of the committee is aware as well,” he said.

Also contributing, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), urged the Senate leadership to compel the committee members to meet over it before bringing it up for general debate on the floor of the Senate in line with procedures and processes of law making.

At this point, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, directed the Marine Transport Committee to look into the allegation and report back within three days.

Also yesterday, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede as Secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Committee on Anti- Corruption and Financial Crimes headed by Senator Chukwuka Utasi (Enugu North) for the consideration and confirmation of Olukoyede as EFCC scribe.

The Senate at a ‘Committee of the Whole’ considered the report and approved the appointment of Olukoyede, who until now, was the Chief of Staff to EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

The upper legislative chamber had last Tuesday stepped down the confirmation of the appointment of Olukoyede as Secretary of the EFCC.

This was due to the rejection of the report presented by Utasi by a member of the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), who said only three out of eight members of the committee signed the endorsement page of the report.

In his defence, Utasi said most committee members could not endorse the report due to their involvement in oversight functions in other committees.

Senate President, Saraki, at this point, advised the committee chairman to meet with other members of the committee after plenary last Tuesday to iron out the grey areas and re-present the report yesterday.