By EricJames Ochigbo
The House of Representatives will proceed with the institution of sanctions against acting Chairman and Management of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Rep. Mark Gbillah (PDP-Benue) has said.
Gbillah, who is the Chairman of the House ad hoc Committee investigating data collection processes, maintenance and usage in RMAFC made this known at a hearing on Tuesday in Abuja.
The chairman said that the committee was constituted in January, 2018 but had not been unable to finish its work as RMAFC would not comply with the demands of the committee.
He said that the committee had written to RMAFC several times and there were various reasons why the commission would not respond to the demands of the committee.
“The committee intended to prevail on the speaker to halt the sanctions that had already been initiated against earring institutions if they are not willing to cooperate with the committee.
“But from what we are seeing today, I want to assure Nigerians that the House of Representatives would proceed with the institution of sanctions against the acting Chairman and management of RMAFC,” he said.
Gbillah said that the commission had erred fundamentally to have written to other agencies instructing them not to honour the invitation of the committee.
The legislator said that by that action, RMAFC did not respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said that the institution did not observe the principle of the Rule of Law and thought they were above board.
The lawmaker said that he wanted President Muhammadu Buhari and all the supervising officers to know what the committee had been going through with the commission in the last one year.
He said that the commission had degenerated to the extent of writing to the Speaker of the house demanding the removal of the committee chairman and casting all forms of aspersions on the committee.
He said that the new National Minimum Wage is hinged on the revenue that accrue to the states of the federation.
According to Gbillah, the committee is out to ensure an equitable allocation of resources to the state and prevent any state from being shortchanged.
The chairman said that the RMAFC has been unable to come up with a record and data to show that all the indices sent to the Accountant General’s office are correct representation of their changing realities envisaged by the Constitution.
He said the allegations against RMAFC before the National Assembly had not been unproven as the commission would not cooperate with the committee.
Gbillah said that the house was left without any other option than to engage the state and take far reaching actions against the commission.
Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) said that the committee could not afford to allow institutions vital to the investigation to hinder the progress of the committee.
He said that the commission writing to other agencies, instructing them not appear before the committee should not be condoned and serious actions should be taken.
Namdas said that the exercise was not a child’s play as section 89 of the Constitution empowers the parliament to carry out investigations and institutions must respect it.
Also, Rep. Mohammed Usman (APC-Kaduna) said it was a sad day for him as the parliamentarians were accused of not doing their job in the media.
According to him, here we are working for Nigerians and some institutions do not want to support to make Nigeria great and better than it is.
He said that there was no institution that was as significant to the state and Local Government as the RMAFC.
Usman said besides Lagos state, no other state in the country could function without revenue from the Federal Government.
He said it was sad that only three states out of 36 honoured the invitation to attend a hearing bothering on revenue allocation.
The lawmaker said that the house must come out strongly as Nigerians would not tolerate such sabotage.
Usman alleged that the right processes hardly works in the RMAFC, alleging that some members of staff allocate monies at will and illegally get a share of it.
According to the lawmaker, this is what necessitated the petition which came to the floor of the house as a motion and the resolution to investigate the matter and the institutions are not here.
The acting Director, Banking Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Abubakar Kure said that the CBN keeps custody of the Federation account which is shared between the federal, states and local governments.
He said that the CBN is also empowered to monitor the inflows and the out flows of the account and to carry out reconciliation.
Kure said the CBN is not a revenue generating agency and that the bank only keeps custody of the account.
He said on a monthly basis, all inflows are collated and sent to the Office of the Account General of the Federation.
Kure said though the bank provides information and returns on the account to RMAFC, it does not have an interface with the commission.
He also said that the commission had not demanded for any returns of revenue collecting agencies from the bank in a very long time.
Also, Mr Abdulazeez Mustafa, the Deputy Director, Revenue Account Department, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said that the service had submitted all documents requested for by the committee.
He said that details of disbursements by the CBN to the FIRS were also contained in the documents submitted to the committee.
He said that there was no existing electronic interface between FIRS and the RMAFC and that the details of all revenue generated by FIRS since 2014 to 2018 had be submitted to the committee.
Mustafa said that the issue of revenue sharing formular was outside the scope of the mandate of the FIRS.
Institutions that failed to appear include the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).(NAN)