House Ad-hoc Committee investigating Federal Government’s leased properties restates parliament’s resolve to protect the interest of Nigerians that invested monies in the Lagos International Trade Complex (LITC), pledges to ensure government makes more than N12 billion annually from the complex
The House of Representatives has vowed to thoroughly investigate the activities of the Board Management of Lagos International Trade Complex (LITC) over unrecovered revenue worth N6.5 billion.
This was sequel to a motion raised on Tuesday during an investigative hearing of the House Ad-hoc Committee investigating Federal Government’s leased properties chaired by Rep. Daniel Asuquo.
The Committee resolved to recover the revenue accrued to various Agencies and Departments under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). They also requested reports from the Department of Weights and Measures on some of the operators’ infractions at the oil terminals.
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The Ministry’s delegation when asked whether it participates in checking the weights and oil terminals export terminal zones, the Director-in-charge of Weights and Measures said:
“Yes, the Weights and Measures Officers are present where custody transfers are being done at the terminals. And at present, we are having an issue because of the clause that is in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which we are still appealing to the House to help us so that the Weights and Measures can exercise their judicious rights of ensuring that the measuring instruments for trades are accurate for fair trade and implementation of the Act that established the Weights and Measures Department.
According to her, “Weights and Measures at the terminals in the oil and gas sector should be ceded to the Upstream, and for us, that looks like saying that the House of Reps should cede its work to the Senate. Because there won’t be any checks and balances, to be sincere.
Saying that Weights and Measures should not be at those terminals is highly risky, because we deal with only instruments and for some of those instruments actually, you’ll find out that there are manipulations. And it’s only through those checkings that we are able to know when it is not right,” she noted.
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However, she also informed the lawmakers that the Department of Weights and Measures had done a lot in terms of saving revenue accrued to the federal government, adding that recently there was one publication, especially in oil and non-oil.
“Some of the foreigners don’t even want our officers to go to check the weights, bridges and the calibrations of what they do; because they know fully well that the accuracy of it will bring benefit. Because for every work that Weights and Measures Officers carry out, there is a fee being paid to the government, and once they are deprived of that exercise, the revenue that is supposed to come to the government is not there.
And that is why many of the organisations don’t want the presence of Weights and Measures. But we do a lot and we have a lot of such reports that we can escalate to the House for information,” she assured.
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Also, in his presentation, LITS Director of Administration and Human Resources, Francis Dajilak, told the committee that the complex was concessioned to Aulic Nigeria Limited in 2007. He said five major stakeholders, including the Department of Security Service (DSS), existed in the complex before the concession.
Dajilak explained that there were issues between the existing stakeholders and the Aulic after the concession, which delayed the implementation till 2008. The Director added that between 2008 and 2017, when the contract was terminated, Aulic did not remit funds to the federal government as agreed in the contract.
According to him, between 2008 and 2017, when the contract was terminated, Aulic Nigeria Ltd owed a total of N6.5 billion, stressing that all efforts to recover the funds after the termination of the contract proved abortive. Dajilak also disclosed that the entire place was in a mess upon recovering the complex, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was invested to recover the funds.
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In his remarks, Counsel to Plaza Owners Association operating in the complex, Godson Okoye, disclosed that if the complex is well managed, it could generate N12 billion in revenue annually. He requested that the committee gives the association a few days to put their position into writing and submit it to the committee.
Okoye said that a lot was going wrong in the complex, and many of their members had lost a lot of money, hinting that some big businessmen operating in the complex had relocated to neighbouring countries due to bad management.
In his ruling, Asuquo, who reiterated the House’s resolve to protect the interest of Nigerians that invested monies in the complex, vowed that the Committee would do all within its powers and the Constitution even if it meant that heads would roll or that it will step on toes. He also stressed the committee’s interest in generating government funds, saying all will be done to ensure that the government makes more than N12 billion annually from the complex.
Similarly, the lawmakers expressed concerns over the N200 million reportedly generated yearly from the 383 shops and offices at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) by the Management Board. To this end, the Committee requested details of the contracts, properties under litigation and utilisation of the revenue accruing from the assets, just as they observed that the TBS Management Board committed grave infraction on the remittance of revenue into Treasury Single Account (TSA) instead of Special Concession Account as provided in the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act.