Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate yesterday accused revenue generating agencies of the federal government of sharp practices through which accruable revenues were denied public purse.
This is just as it also accused some banks of conniving with federal civil servants to operate accounts outside the official Treasury Single Account (TSA) of government.
The upper chamber claimed that most if not all the revenue generating agencies of government collect revenues and fail to pay them into the federation account.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said recent experience of the federal parliament had revealed that the revenue agencies are neck deep in corruption.
Speaking at his investiture as Patron of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN), Lawan stated that “our experience in the National Assembly recently has shown that the revenue generating agencies of government, many of them, will collect revenues but not all the revenues are remitted to the appropriate account of government.”
He, therefore, canvassed for the introduction of modern technology for the collection and transmission of all accruable revenues to government purse.
According to him, the legislative arm will always be ready to support the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in digitalising its operations with a view to blocking all available leakages.
He said: “We believe that we can do better if we deploy technology in the collection and transmission of the revenues. That is why the Federal Inland Revenue Service has received complete support from the National Assembly to become more digital in the area of collection of revenues so that we limit leakages and embezzlement that some officers would try to engage in”.
Lawan also accused some banks of conniving with government officials to operate accounts outside the official Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the federal government.
He, therefore, stressed the need for anti-corruption agencies to go after the banks and critically examine their books.
“Our anti-corruption agencies should go beyond looking at what the government agencies are doing, they should also look at what our banks are doing. Some of these banks, I don’t have figures or names, a lot of times we have placed implicit trust in them but money are diverted and accounts that have no approval of the Accountant General to be opened will be operated.
“Before the introduction of TSA, we have had stories of hundreds of bank accounts operated by some agencies but of course we know the limit the Accountant-General of the Federation has approved for agencies of government to operate. The malaise of corruption is deep-seated, needing concerted efforts to tame, and so efforts at nation building should be continuous with all hands being on deck to achieve this success”.
Lawan noted that it was better to prevent corruption rather than fighting it among the civil servants.
He said: “Whenever and wherever we want to fight corruption, we must ensure that we emphasise on prevention because corruption has been in existence maybe as old as when human beings started to live on earth. So people will always try to take advantage of the system. Therefore, we must emphasise on how to prevent it and make it difficult for especially civil servants, I am sorry to say that, those who are entrusted with public funds to have an undue access and opportunity to divert public funds. We have to prevent it because some believe that if they try they can get away with it and the best way to deal with this is to make it difficult and where possible impossible to access public funds for personal use”.