Senate has ordered its committee on finance, banking, other financial institutions and public account to carry out a holistic investigation on the management of the treasury single account (TSA).
In a motion co-sponsored by 35 senators, Dino Melaye, senator representing Kogi west, had alleged that there were underhand practices in the management of the TSA. He observed that “in the course of the operations of the TSA, the federal government on September 15 mopped up the sum of N2.5 trillion through its e-collection agent, Remita, which charges one percent of all money passing through it, the implication of which one percent of the N2.5tr mopped up on September 15 alone amounted to N25bn largesse to Remita for doing nothing”.
He argued that the appointment of Remita as an agent for the operations of the TSA negated and contravened Section 162 (1) of the 1999 constitution. Melaye said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was the sole institution mandated to collect and disburse money on behalf of the federal government.
“Where it had no branch, it might appoint another bank as an agent to perform the function of collections and disbursement of revenue on behalf of the government of the federation, using Remita, who is not a registered bank completely offends the CBN act,”
he said. He added that the activities of Remita were a gross violation of the “banks and other financial institutions (BOFIA) 2007 act”, and an attempt to rip Nigerians off their money. Melaye said Remita, which is not licensed to operate in the financial sector, was “dubiously” given a contract to serve as an intermediary between the ministries, agencies and departments of the federal government and the CBN in the management of the TSA.
On his part, Eyinnaya Abaribe (Abia south), said a thorough investigation should be carried out to unravel the knotty issues surrounding the management of the TSA. “Somebody must be held accountable. Somebody must pay for this. When the investigation is done, let there be no cover up,” he said.
Also speaking, Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom northeast), said he would lead a national protest if the corruption in the management of the TSA was not tackled. He added that it was depressing that the issue of corruption in the management of the TSA was coming up at time the government was leading a frontal war against graft.
The senate thereafter directed the CBN to immediately stop any payment to Remita pending an investigation into the management of the TSA.
Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presided “partially” for the first time over the sitting before Senate President Bukola Saraki took over.
Remita is a subsidiary of SystemSpecs.
Remita is used by a number of states and federal government agencies like the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (mgt) Board (PEF(M)B), Remita is also the e-payment platform chosen by the Federal Government to drive the Treasury Single Account (TSA), an information technology based management of government payment and revenue. Riding on the benefits of Remita, TSA allows for electronic collection of revenue and payment.