TSA probe: Reps threaten Emefiele, Baru with arrest
John Ameh, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Wednesday summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, over the total accruals into the Treasury Single Account since inception.
An ad hoc committee of the House, which summoned the officials during its resumed sitting in Abuja, had on four previous occasions asked them to appear before it.
However, Emefiele and Baru had consistently failed to appear, forcing the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Abubakar Danburam-Nuhu, to summon them again on Wednesday.
As of July, an estimated N1.65tn was expected to have been remitted into the NNPC sub-account of the TSA.
The corporation had yet to clarify whether the money had been lodged into the account as of the period it was due.
An exasperated Danburam-Nuhu recalled that while the committee had already met with officials from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Auditor-General of the Federation, Baru and Emefiele had been avoiding the panel.
He said the committee had written several letters to both officials but that they always preferred to send representatives.
For instance, on Wednesday, Emefiele sent Mr. Kolawole Balogun to represent him, while Baru delegated Mr. Isiaka Abdulrazaq.
The committee turned down the appearances and insisted that Emefiele and Baru must appear in person.
The TSA software developer, SystemSpecs, was also summoned by the committee.
Danburam-Nuhu stated, “Once we summon them and they don’t come, we will invoke Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution and issue an arrest warrant. This is the fourth meeting of this committee on this very important matter of the TSA, but neither the CBN governor nor the GMD of the NNPC deemed it fit to appear in person, despite our invitations.
“As a parliament, we won’t accept this. The issue of the TSA is very important to this administration. We met with other stakeholders and there are a lot of issues raised, which can only be addressed by the CBN governor and the NNPC GMD.”
Meanwhile, a bill for an Act to repeal the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap. P34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-enact the Foreign Exchange Act, 2017 passed the second reading at the House on Wednesday.
The bill, which was sponsored by the Chairman, Committee on Banking/Currency, Mr. Chukwudi Jones-Onyereri, seeks to “establish a foreign exchange market and to provide for the regulation, monitoring and supervision of the transactions conducted in the market.”
Jones-Onyereri explained that the proposed law would make Nigeria to “keep pace with recent developments in the foreign exchange market, such as round-tripping and cross-border movement of large amounts of foreign currencies.”
For example, the new law proposes that forex dealers must render returns to the CBN, which must include information as to the sources of funds above $10,000.
In Section 22, the bill pegs forex export from the country at $50,000 or its equivalent.
“This bill makes provision for extension of time within which authorised dealers issue certificates of capital importation and make returns to the CBN from 48 hours to 72 hours to reflect current realities,” Jones-Onyereri added.