N30trn scam: Blackmail won’t stop probe – Senate

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Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman Senate Committee on Customs and Excise
Senator Hope Uzodinma, Chairman Senate Committee on Customs and Excise

By Cecilia Ijuo

The Senate has vowed to continue its ongoing investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue scam in the import and export chain.

Its Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, chaired by Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made this known while briefing newsmen shortly after its investigative meeting with some of the companies.

He said the interest of the Senate in the investigation was to assist the executive in recovering monies trapped in the import and export chain.

”There are allegations that the investigation is borne out of personal interest.

”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.

”This is so that together we will succeed in making sure that the import and  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,” he said.

The lawmaker further said that while some detractors had alleged that the investigation was a sham, some of the indicted companies had started refunding monies running into billions of Naira to the Federal Government

”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.

”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 N120bn I announced some time ago have been recovered we do not want to send the wrong signal, so 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, ” he said.

Uzodinma 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 adding that revealing the figures would send panic to the market.

He also explained that the committee resorted to interfacing with individual companies rather than meeting with them in group to enable them open up to the committee.

Uzodinma added that the strategy had yielded positive result, particularly in recovering trapped funds.

He said” the 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 are no longer contesting most of the documents of infractions we confronted them with.”

The chairman called for the support of 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.

He said though Nigeria was populated enough be known as the giant of Africa, there was a need for commensurate commitment by citizens.


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