James Emejo in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said allegations that stamp duty collection amounting to N89 trillion was unaccounted for by the bank were unfounded.
The CBN, Director, Corporate Communication, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, also said such allegations were shocking since the assets of the entire banking industry were less than the amount being taunted.
He also said the central bank has nothing to do with the stamp duty collections other than keeping the records in line with the provision of law.
A member of the House of Representatives, Gudaji Kazaure, had recently alleged that N89.09 trillion purportedly realised from deductions by banks as stamp duty charges had been diverted.
The lawmaker also alleged that the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele kept another $171 billion in the bank’s private investors’ account as proceeds of stamp duty.
The presidency has however dismissed the allegations of misappropriation of Stamp Duty funds levelled against some government agencies.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the claim as a figment of the imagination of Mr Kazaure.
He said it was unconstitutional for a member of the parliament to be secretary of an executive committee.
In an interview with BBC Hausa, the lawmaker had claimed to be Secretary of the Presidential Committee on the Reconciliation and Recovery of All Stamp Duties.
He also alleged that critical institutions, including the CBN, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), and the Protocol Department of the State House prevented him from briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on findings made by his committee.
However, responding to questions on the subject matter on a radio programme in Abuja, Nwanisobi said, “We have been hearing these allegations, but they said N89 trillion stamp duty accumulated and the total assets for Nigerian banks is about N63 trillion and someone is claiming that fifty kobo accumulated to N89 trillion, how possible is it?
“If there is any committee in charge, that has nothing to do with us (CBN). The committee can do their work but has nothing to do with the CBN. Our most concern is the N89 trillion because the total assets of all the banks in Nigeria are not up to that amount.
“The publication which claimed that transactions by CBN on the I & E window hit $171 billion is false. The I & E window is a platform where people trade in FX, it is not an account, so banks come there to trade, CBN comes in also as an observer, we either buy or sell there because it is a platform.
“When amounts like these are heard of, I think it’s a little bit of a misunderstanding of what I & E window stands for because it’s a platform for trading and people come in there to buy, sell and stock.
“The 40:60 (N100) ratio stamp duty is obedience to the law because issues around stamp duty are obedience to the law, this is not about CBN, but obeying what the law says.
“CBN is the creation of the law, and that is why we say, CBN is an institution with statutory flavour. Our responsibility is to keep up with the law. The law states that the act on stamp duty must be obeyed, and that is what it does.
“We keep a record of all transactions, that is why whenever we hear such allegations, we are shocked. The committee is not approved by CBN, CBN doesn’t set up a committee despite it being set up by President Muhammadu Buhari. And the issue of the committee has been addressed by the committee also.”