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Legislature

Audit Query: Reps Cttee Grills Minister, officials over excessive Loss of revenue

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***Also for Non Redition of Audited Account, expenditure of Service Wide Vote

***As minister claims ignorance, begs for more time

The Public Account Committee (PAC), of the House of Representatives on Monday grilled the Minister of
of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo along with Heads of Parastatals and top officials of the Ministry on several queries from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The queries were on issues ranging from issuance of capital allowances to several companies without proper documentation to back them up, non return of audited accounts to expenditure from Service Vide Vote from 2013 to date.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Oluwole Oke ( PDP-Osun) explained to the Minister that before the coming of the Finance Act, only Permanent Secretaries were being invited to answer such queries, adding that with the coming into effect of the 2020 Finance Act, invitations are now being extended to Ministers.

He explained that the mission of the Committee was to bring Head of agencies under the Ministry that have refused over time to respond to invitation to come and answer to queries from the Auditor General, but rather consistently give one excuse or the other for their failure honour such invitations

According to him, “These people are appointees of the President through your office. By the provisions of the constitution, the President has often come to the National Assembly and yet, his appointees refused to come.
“If they cannot do the job they are asked to do, they should resign because there are those ready to do the job.

“We did not want to get to the level of issuing warrant of arrest for the Heads of agencies. We felt that if we invite you and ask you to come with them, they will respect you and come. We were right, today, they are here with you.

“We want them to come and explain to the Nigerian people how they spent public resources in their disposal. Is that too much to ask?
“If the President will come to the parliament, why wont his appointees? It is for accountability and transparency, the Parliament is not after anyone, even as you are here today physically, the Director General of the Standard Organization of Nigeria, (SON), is still not here, he has been avoiding the Committee, he has always been seeking for an extension of time for our invitations”

The Minister however appealed to the Committee to give him and his team more time to fine tune their documents and come back to them for proper defence of the audit queries.

He stated that the issues raised in the queries were just being brought to his notice at the hearing, stressing that he would need time to sit with his offficials and the Permanent Secretary to prepare a more comprehensive answer to the queries.

The Minister assured that he would personally come back to the Committee with the Permanent secretary for the presentation which the Committee obliged him in the spirit of fair heating

In the documents presented before the Committee, it revealed that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment had issued about 4,672 certificate of capital allowance worth about N7,865,186,245,398.81 to 2, 203 companies between January 2017 and December 2021.

The documents also revealed that within the same period the Ministry recorded what they described as disallowance (finding after an audit that a business or individual taxpayer was not entitled to a deduction or other tax benefit claimed on a tax return) of N101.553 billion.

Capital Allowance is the practice of allowing a tax payer to get tax relief on capital expenditure by allowing it to be deducted against their annual taxable income.

It is akin to a tax deductible expenses and are available in respect of qualifying capital expenditure incurred on the provision of certain assets in use for the purposes of a trade or rental services and effectively allow a tax payer to write off the cost of an asset over a period of time.

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Legislature

Senate affirms Kogi’s status as an oil producing state receiving 13% derivation

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The Senate on Thursday affirmed Kogi State as an oil producing state receiving 13% derivation as stipulated for by section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The affirmation was sequel to a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator Jibrin Isah, popularly known as Echocho (APC Kogi East).
Senator Isah’s motion came 24 hours after a heated debate between him and Senator Tony Nwoye on the status of Kogi as an oil producing state receiving 13% derivation .
While Tony Nwoye in his presentation at Senate plenary on Wednesday, on a bill seeking for inclusion of Anambra State in the operational radius of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), argued that Kogi State is not receiving 13% derivation like Anambra State, Echocho countered him that Kogi State has been a receiving the 13% derivation since October 2022.

Coming on the strength of Order 42 of the Senate Standing rules, the Kogi Senator raised a motion for affirmation of Kogi as an oil producing State, benefitting from the 13% derivation .
The singular prayer of Senator Echocho’s motion urged the Senate to take the clarification that Kogi State is an oil producing state which has been receiving the constitutional 13% derivation since October 2022; and accord it the necessary recognition as an oil-producing state.
Senator Echocho prior to adoption of the prayer by the Senate submitted saying that oil has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy right from 1956 when it was discovered in commercial quantity at Oloibiri in the present Bayelsa State.

He explained further that after the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri, other discoveries were made in other parts of the country, including the present Abia, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ondo, and Imo States.

“Informed that oil was later discovered in commercial quantities in Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh all in Ibaji community of the present-day Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State.

“Further Informed that after due assessments and consultations, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, officially listed Kogi State as an oil producing state in 2021.

“Aware of the peculiarities of the oil producing States, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under section 162(2), directs the constant reflection of the principle of derivation of not less than 13% in any approved revenue allocation formula.

“Recall that in a debate on a Bill to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act No.86 LFN 2004 (SB 271) before this distinguished Senate on Wednesday, 28th February 2024, the sponsor of the Bill, Senator Tony Nwoye, stated that Kogi State is yet to start receiving the constitutional 13% derivation as an oil producing state.

“Cognisant that upon the official recognition by the RMAFC in 2021, the Kogi State Government officially received the first 13% derivation in October 2022 and has continued to receive it till date.

“Further Cognisant that the receipt of the first 13% was officially acknowledged by the Kogi State Government in a state broadcast on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, which was widely published in national dailies which reported Kogi State as the first northern oil producing state to get 13% derivation. Copies of those publications are attached for ease of reference”.

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Legislature

Afeez Kilani declares to contest NASSLAF chairmanship

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***Says he is most experienced having gone through the ranks

Alhaji Prince Afeez Kilani, senior Legislative Aide to distinguished senator Buhari Abdulfatai has officially declared to contest for the chairmanship position of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF)
Kilani who hails from Shaki west in Oyo State, South west Nigeria said he would bring his wealth of experience to bare by improving on the welfare of Legislative Aids.
“I have been here since the year 2015. I got here as a legislative Assistant, that is LA2 and because of thr level of dedication my boss promoted me to LA1 in 2019.
“Now I am the SLA to the distinguished senator Buhari Abdulfatai, he is a third time Senator in the Nigerian senate.
“With this carrier progression, coupled with my experience in the National Assembly, at least I have run through the ranks of the aides of the National Assembly.
“I think I am in the best position to understand the yearnings and the needed welfare of the legislative aides because I have gone through the ranks of the legislative aids.
“We don’t want a situation whereby an aide or a chairman will be elected and he will not understand what other legislative aides are going through.
He said there is no need to elect a chairman that will not understand the pains, the feelings and yearnings of Legislative aides.
He said he is a reflection, a manifest example of a leader who has gone through the ranks of legislative aid because, “I started my carrier as an SL2 but now I am the SLA so there is nothing that any legislative aide is going through that I don’t understand.
“With that understanding, I am in the best position pilot the affairs of the national Assembly legislative aides. If you give me your support, I am going to serve you better.”
On how he would be able to use diplomacy to settle disagreement with the management of the National Assembly when it arises, he said, “We are in the 21st century, and as a lawyer there is what is called alternative dispute resolution. In labour law, it is very important that confrontation, protests should be the last thing, should be on the last burner.
‘The first thing is negotiation, good approach to issues, we are in a democratic era. It is when all that fails that we can adopt confrontation which we are not going to even adopt.
“I know with my skills as a lawyer for more than 11 years of experience, it is not going to be difficult for me to meet with management to convince them of the reason why they should take care of us.”

Chairman of the Southwest National Assembly Legislative Forum, Ogumawola Ebeneza, said, “As you can see the ovation is laud because we have gone through rigorous screening and Southwest as a leading zone when it comes to affairs of the NASSLAF we have then everything in to consideration and we decided one voice to queue behind our own Barr.Hafiz Kelani as our candidate
The DG said the aides need a new lease of life.
“We are tired of recirculation of warn out leaders. We don’t want people that have been circulating themselves since the 5th Assembly.
“You have heard the voice of the aides, the first timers, and the semi first timers and we have decided as the South West zone we have decided to put our own, some one who’s door will be opened, who will not stay in the office wanting people to come and meet him.
“He is someone that will go round to know the needs and yearnings of the aides. This is the man we are looking for. This is the reason we are doing to stand by him, He is not for South West but for all the zones.
Olusola Olugbami AKA maintain said they need Somebody that will do what others have not been able to do, you know in the South West, we don’t take the back seat.
“Whenever we said we have resolved to do something that is what we will do. This is our candidate and by the grace of God, he is going to emerge victorious.

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Legislature

Senate panel quizzes Bakari as NFIU Boss

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The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes has on Monday quizzed Hafsat Bakari as the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU).

President Bola Tinubu last week appointed Bakari as the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, pending her confirmation by the Senate.

By the appointment Bakari is to replace Modibbo Tukur who was relieved of his job by President Tinubu in June 2023.
Bakari is a lawyer and financial intelligence expert with years of experience in anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, and counter-proliferation financing said she has “enough experience to discharge he duties”
Before her appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the NFIU, she served as Deputy Director at the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, and was at different times the Head of the General Services Unit; Head of the Strategy and Reorientation Unit, and Head of the Board Secretariat of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a chat with newsmen after the screening, the Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Emmanuel Menga Udende expresses that Ms. Bakare will bring her wealth of experience and expertise to bare in the discharge of her mandate in this critical role, especially in view of the President Bola Tinubu’s war against illicit financial flows and other sharp practices currently prevalent in segments of the nation’s foreign exchange markets”
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) a creation of the National Assembly is the Nigerian federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing disclosures from reporting organizations, in order to produce financial intelligence to other agencies combating money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes.
The NFIU was established in 2004 as an autonomous unit within the central coordinating body for the country’s Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, and Counter-Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN).
It also operates as part of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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