Secretary of the Presidential Committee on Reconciliation and Recoveries of all Stamp Duties, Muhammad Gudaji Kazaure, has accused the National Assembly of being in the pocket of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The Committee’s Secretary also alleged that the CBN governor is in connivance with some “cabal” in the presidency to frustrate efforts of the Committee to recover over N89.1 trillion in unremitted stamp duty revenue.
Kazaure, who represents Kazaure, Roni, Gwiwa, and Yankwashi Federal Constituency, made the allegations flanked by heavily armed security personnel while addressing a press conference over the weekend, alleged that the cabal was doing everything possible to prevent his committee from making headway in the investigation. He further noted that they blocked all access to let the Committee see President Muhammadu Buhari in accordance with the ’30 Days Meet and Review’ mandate given to it.
According to documents made available to OrderPaper Nigeria, the Presidential Committee on Reconciliation and Recoveries of all Stamp Duties was set up in September 2022 to recover and reconcile all unremitted stamp duties from the banking sector from 2013 to date.
The Committee’s terms of reference include: investigating all stamp duties recovered from banks and transferring them to many accounts; transferring all stamp duties into a Stamp Duties Central Account; recovering other stamp duties into the STAMP DUTIES CENTRAL ACCOUNT; exercising the power of detention on any person, or group of persons, that violates the presidential directives on this assignment; initiating all statutory steps that the Ministry of Finance must follow on stamp duties; correcting all legislation that threatens FGN’s (Federal Government) interest on stamp duties; paying consultants their 7.5% fees, as Mr President had approved; and issuing a “White Paper” on its findings for shared responsibility between Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government and for the Gazette of the Federal Ministry of Information, among others.
However, he accused the National Assembly of benefitting directly from the CBN governor, thereby preventing him from bringing the matter before the House of Representatives for investigation at the time he wanted to. Kazaure further noted that the fund, if recovered, would help the federal government to liquidate its debt, fund the budget, and meet other financial obligations without resorting to borrowing.
According to him: “The President used his powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to constitute this Committee to investigate anything in this country. The National Assembly is different. Although, I took the matter to the National Assembly but later on, I found out that the National Assembly is in the pocket of the CBN governor. The National Assembly can not investigate CBN governor because they are benefitting from him.
So, when I brought the matter to the National Assembly to talk on the floor about this Committee, the Speaker and some members of the leadership denied my right, denied my privileges as a representative; when I brought this issue, they stopped me. They refused me to talk on the floor about this Committee. Although I intended to involve the National Assembly so that we could investigate this matter between the DSS and my Committee, but the Speaker (House of Representatives) refused me to talk. Later on, I discovered that they are benefitting from the CBN governor, that is why they refused me to talk; that is the reality,” the lawmaker added.
“Mr President gave me powers to remove the CBN governor, investigate him and detain him”
Speaking on his (Kazaure) earlier opposition to the confirmation of the National Assembly of Godwin Emiefele‘s appointment for a second term as CBN governor because he was allegedly involved in an eight hundred million pound (£800m) fraud.
“What happened is that Mr President, when I raised an alarm that this man would not be reappointed as CBN governor because I have some documents that I take to Mr President directly of almost eight hundred million pounds to investigate how the money came from HSPC bank,
President (Muhammadu Buhari) said he would investigate, but they went and told Mr President lies, convincing the President not to listen to me. Mr President is one man that when you take a matter to him, he will ask you if what you are saying is the truth between you and Allah. Although, Mr President appointed this man because some people around him are not telling him the truth.
The President will not go out and see it with his eyes because he relies on paper and information available to him. It is whatever they write for Mr President that he relies on because he will ask you that between you and your God is that true, and when you say is true. He will then ask you to progress, which is why when I informed him about these charges (Stamp Duty Charges), he gave me the powers to remove the CBN governor, investigate him and detain him to ensure all this money is recovered into the federal government account.
So even when Mr President reappointed him, it was based on paper because he did not know what was happening. Mr President is a good man with a good heart. The people that brought that paper to Mr President assured him that this man would work, and that is why he reappointed him,” Kazaure explained.
Kazuare berates the Ministry of Finance for flouting directive
The lawmaker also accused the Finance Ministry of disregarding a presidential directive on opening a central account for stamp duty collection.
Narrating how the process to recover funds began, he said: “In 2017, the School of Banking honours went to the president and informed him of the revenue leakage of unremitted N20 trillion for stamp duty charges from banks and other financial institutions.
After listening to their presentations, the president graciously approved and appointed them as the FG’s substantive Stamp Duty Agent and Consultant. They also continued with their research after the presidential approval, but it was not long before they began encountering challenges from the CBN.
At some point, the presidential candidate of the APC intervened, but the CBN resented it and became hostile to the school. So they consulted me due to my closeness with the president, and they showed me the circulars released by the CBN and the huge amount the CBN is charging that is not remitted to the federation account. They also explained that N100 is being shared in a 60:40 ratio between the commercial banks and the CBN.”
He added that “40 per cent of the CBN goes to a private account, from their Investors and Exports [I&E] window account. and this 40 percent doesn’t reflect in the government account.” The Jigawa politician stressed that the president was excited about the discovery and asked him to write a memo on the need to set up a committee to investigate the scandal.
“So when we began sitting, the School of Banking honours program [Consultant to the FG] submitted a memo they wrote to the minister claiming there is N89.1 trillion in the Investor and Export window account, of which he said the charges going to the private amount to N170 billion in 2020,” Kazaure added.