BY Busola Aro
The presidency has dismissed allegations made by Gudaji Kazaure, member of the house of representatives on mismanagement or embezzlement of stamp duty funds, claiming there were cover-ups by administration officials.
In a recent interview, Kazaure, who said he is also the secretary of the presidential committee on the reconciliation and recovery of all stamp duties, alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (OSGF), and the protocol department of the state house, conspired to prevent him from briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the findings so far made.
The lawmaker alleged that he was blocked from meeting Buhari in order to brief him on progress reports on efforts to trace trapped N89.09 trillion.
However, in response to Kazaure’s allegations, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, on Saturday, said it was “ludicrous that a member of the parliament would claim to be secretary of an executive committee”, adding that such a mix would be unconstitutional.
Shehu also said Buhari had since dissolved the committee Kazaure was claiming to be the secretary to, but noted that there is another committee, chaired by the attorney-general and minister of justice, set up in June 2020 by the president, which is still executing the task of reconciling stamp duties accounts.
“In the first instance, the committee on the alleged loss of stamp duty funds he is talking about is an illegal committee, it was dissolved on directive of the president,” he said.
“Anyone familiar with our constitution will find it curious that a member of the parliament is the secretary of an executive committee. It suffices to say that the entire net worth of the nation’s financial sector, the assets of the banking sector put together, is not worth N50 trillion, not to talk of the kind of money he is talking about.
“The Central Bank assures that there is absolutely no problem, whatsoever, with money from stamp duties.
“There is a committee duly set up by the president in June 2020, chaired by the attorney-general and minister of justice and the secretary is the chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS) that is currently reconciling the stamp duty accounts. The job is not finished.
“As it is, there is nothing to give credence to wild accusations made against the administration.
“Following speculation and the many allegations, earlier investigations were commissioned by government departments and agencies, including the ministry of finance, the revenue mobilisation and fiscal service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation and nothing sensational has been discovered by them.
“Issues of reconciliation are being handled.”
On the allegation that Kazaure had been prevented from meeting with the president in his efforts to expose his findings to him, Shehu said it was not true as the legislator is known to be a friend of the president with unfettered access to him.
“As for Gudaji seeing the president, I’d like to assure you that there is nobody that can stop him from seeing the number one citizen. Gudaji is a friend of the president. He sees him as many times as he wants and he is welcome to come and see him again and again,” he added.
The 36 states through their attorneys-general, had sued the AGF over the alleged failure of the government to remit funds generated from stamp duties into state accounts.