The House of Representatives on Monday began investigations into unclaimed Federal Government funds in commercial banks across the country, as did the House Ad Hoc Committee on Unclaimed Funds in Nigerian Commercial Banks and Central Bank Offenses. of Nigeria (CBN) was inaugurated on Monday.
Speaking at the inauguration of the ad hoc committee, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by his deputy, Representative Ahmed Wase, said the mission was in line with the Nigerian constitution giving power the National Assembly to investigate. hearings either to improve the loss or to expose corruption or waste.
He expressed optimism that the mission of the committee would improve the system in terms of added value.
According to him, “I believe from the body of the motion that around 1.2 trillion naira is not going into consolidated revenue so that we can improve the infrastructure deficit and other challenges in our country”
For his part, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Uniyme Idem, warned that sanctions would be imposed on anyone who did not cooperate with the investigation.
Ditto has mandated banks to submit relevant documents that would help recover unclaimed funds in approximately 45 million accounts reported as not linked to Bank Verification Number (BVN).
He pointed out that commercial banks and other agencies that hid the funds and did not wish to show their cooperation by reimbursing would be prevented from collecting revenue for the government.
According to him, “I think this House would have no choice but to prevent you from fundraising on behalf of the federal government if you are not cooperative. But if you do, it would be a win-win where we look at your books and then you check the one that belongs to the FG and refund it appropriately. There would be no problem.
“This mission is huge, crucial and sensitive given the country’s economic situation. This is what prompted the House of Representatives to mandate this very important committee to embark on this mission. We believe the outcome would help the country recover very significant portions of the unclaimed funds that were hanging in some of the Nigerian commercial banks and other unauthorized hands.
“Money for the federal government is not supposed to stay in unauthorized hands for very long. Any money disbursed or destined for the Federation account, if the contract had failed or not been performed, the good thing was that the money was refunded to the same source from which it came. But unfortunately, whether inadvertently or deliberately for some reason, so much money based on recent discovery has been stuck somewhere. This is what informed the National Assembly, specifically the Chamber, to begin this investigative hearing.
He said banks would begin appearing before the committee with their submissions from January 15, 2022 and called for full cooperation from them and relevant government agencies during the investigation.
Also speaking, the Federation’s accountant general, Ahmed Idris, said there was a good chance that a substantial amount of federal government funds were still being held by commercial banks despite a 2015 presidential directive, and the circulars and efforts to compel commercial banks to comply with these guidelines.
Represented by the Director, Coordinator of the Treasury Single Account (CUT), Sylva Okorieaboh, he said: “On December 14, 2021, the Minister of Finance inaugurated new structures for the implementation of the CUT and she alluded to the fact that it is likely that a substantial amount of federal government funds are still with commercial banks and have ordered the banks to return those funds or they will be reported to anti-corruption agencies. We believe that there are still federal government funds with the commercial banks, but we cannot say precisely how much and where, to that extent, we welcome the efforts of this committee.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed also said that in recent years there have been government circulars seeking to enforce this.
Represented by the Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, the Minister said that the existing CBN regulations provide guidelines for the management of inactive accounts, dormant accounts and unclaimed funds.
She said the guidelines require any bank to notify the federal government of the existence of such funds belonging to it.
The minister urged the CBN to do the job of enforcing its own guidelines and assured the ministry’s commitment to the investigation.
The banks and agencies present promised their cooperation in the investigation.
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