OrderPaperToday – It was tale of denials and confusion at the senate public hearing of the alleged N25billion fraud in the administration of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration Wednesday.
While the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele denied knowledge of the said transaction, the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, insisted that he declined to sign an agreement to pay SystemSpec Ltd a 1% commission charge for the use of Remita software in operating the TSA.
But the Managing Director of SystemSpec, Mr. John Obaro contradicted the government officials, insisting that the CBN did sign a contract with his firm to provide the service. He displayed documents showing that a former deputy governor of CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo on behalf of the apex bank, a position Emefiele also feigned ignorance of.
The Senate had last month mandated its committees on Finance; Banking and other Financial Institutions; and Public Accounts to investigate the operation of the TSA following a motion by Sen. Dino Melaye that an alleged N25billion commission paid was paid to a private company in operating the scheme.
The CBN governor said he heard of the Remita transaction for the first time when the senate blew open the deal and that he immediately directed that monies paid to the firm be returned which he said had been done.
He said: “I must openly and honestly own up to you that I did not know that one per cent was being deducted on the transfer of funds to TSA account until the Senate raised it. I immediately called SystemSpec and insisted that they should reverse and return the money they collected. That is what I know.”
On his part, Mr. Obaro explained that the 1% commission was shared between his firm, commercial banks and the CBN in the ratio of 50%, 40% and 10% respectively.
While declaring the public hearing open, President of the senate, Bukola Saraki noted that the seeming laudable goals of TSA could be marred by mismanagement and non-compliance according to the rules, stating that the investigation was not to witch-hunt anybody but rather, to strengthen the relationship between the legislature and the executive.