By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — THE Senate, yesterday, vowed that no amount of pressure or blackmail would stop it from continuing with the ongoing investigation into alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage in the import and export chain.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, in Abuja after its investigative meeting with some companies, chairman of the Joint Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, investigating the alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West), said the interest of the Senate in the investigation was to assist the government recover monies trapped in the import and export chain.
He said: “There are allegations that the investigation is borne out of personal interest. Once a Senate in a committee of the whole passes a resolution such as this, it cannot be termed as the decision of a single senator.
“You may not like my face as a person, but it is important to look at the credibility of the work we are doing. This is so that together, we will succeed in making sure that the import-export circle is sanitised, trade is facilitated and non-oil revenue is recovered and strengthened.”
Uzodinma said while some detractors had alleged that the investigation was a sham, some of the indicted companies had started refunding money running into billions of Naira to the Federal Government
He said: “As a result of this investigation, the banks, which are the authorised dealers in the export and import chain have been making effort to remit everything collected by them to the Central Bank. We are doing this on a friendly note because we do not want to send a wrong signal to the market.
“Although more funds other than the N120 billion I announced some time ago have been recovered but because we do not want to send the wrong signal, we are limited to speak further on how much has been recovered so far.
“However, we will definitely come up with the figures recovered at the end of the investigation.”
Uzodinma said the committee resorted to interfacing with individual companies rather than meeting with them in group, adding that the strategy had yielded positive results.
He said: ‘’ The companies are now free to admit and some of them have promised to make payments. Today alone (yesterday), three companies came with receipts of payment. If we did not embark on this investigation, we would not make these recoveries.
‘’Through this investigation, we have helped the federal government to recover some money and we are sure that government will recover more money because we have detailed information that will aid more recovery.
‘’The companies so far are no longer contesting most of the documents of infractions we confronted them with.’’
Uzodinma, who called for the support of relevant stakeholders, including the media, in the ongoing investigation, said the country would not be able to make the necessary progress, if Nigerians were not committed to ensuring that national interest was continually protected.