The Senate on Thursday commenced investigation into the alleged unauthorised spending of N567bn being the cost of tax collected by the Nigerian Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service from January 2005 to July 2015.
A non-governmental organisation, Legislative Watch, dragged the two Federal Government agencies to the Senate through a petition that was sent to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on 13 August, 2015.
The Senate, thereafter, referred the petition to its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
A document from the Federal Ministry of Finance, presented to the committee by the petitioner, indicated that the average monthly collection cost of the NCS was N2.5bn which put the total amount not remitted by NCS for 126 months (January 2005 to July 2015) at N315bn.
Similarly, the document showed that the average monthly cost of collection of the FIRS was put at N2bn which put the total amount not remitted by FIRS over the same period at N252bn.
The two figures added together, put the cost of collection for both agencies at N567bn.
Defending the petition before the committee, the Executive Secretary of Legislative Watch, Ngozi Ihuoma, alleged that the amount represented the seven per cent cost of tax collection paid to the NCS and the four per cent also paid to the FIRS during the period.
The group alleged that the two agencies deducted the money from the amount collected on behalf of the Federal Government without appropriation by the National Assembly, contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
Specifically, Ihuoma claimed that the action of the agencies’ management was against sections 162 (3) and 165 of the Constitution.
He said the group explained that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2004, approved the payment of seven per cent to the NCS and four per cent to the FIRS as cost of collection in line with Section 165 of the 1999 Constitution.
He said, “We have observed that deduction of the cost of collection started in January 2005 and the two agencies have been receiving the said percentages without appropriation from the National Assembly.”