By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—House of Representatives, yesterday resolved to investigate the loss of over $50 billion (N8 trillion) in gold revenue tax from 2013 to 2018.
The House also urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to routinely subject members of crew and pilots of the airlines operating in Nigeria to various tests before and after flights to determine their fitness or otherwise to fly.
This came as the House passed to second reading a bill for an act to upgrade the Federal College of Education, Omoku, Rivers State to a university.
The loss of $50 billion from gold revenue was essentially attributed to illegal mining and exportation of unprocessed gold from Nigeria.
Moving the motion titled: “Urgent need to investigate over 50 billion Dollars (8 trillion Naira) loss in gold tax revenue and illegal mining in the last five years” at the plenary, Hon. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, who represents Egor/Ikpobaokha Federal Constituency of Edo State who also sponsored it told the House that the country was being fleeced by some elements who were working against its progress.
He also recalled some reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) which indicated that in 2014 and 2015, Nigeria lost about $9 billion to illegal mining operations and gold exportation.
He said among others, “The House notes the need to diversify from reliance on crude oil to alternative sources of revenue to cushion the effects of the nation’s dwindling oil revenue; Also notes that the mining sector is a key driver in National Economic Development as Nigeria has the fourth largest reserve of bitumen in the world and the second largest Iron ore deposits in Africa, as well as abundant coal resources. Also Worried at the current average price of $1,200 per ounce of gold in the international market, which amounts to an unaccounted sum of $4,232,400 per day and $1,544,826,000 per annum, considering that one kilogram is equal to 35.27 ounces, going by international rates”.
Adopting the motion, the House referred it to the Ad-hoc Committee already investigating federal government recovered funds and assets, to investigate the revenue leakages in the mining sector and the illegal mining of the country’s mineral resources in the last 5 years.
The Committee will also probe the activities of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in curtailing and tracking all mineral movement within and outside Nigeria.
It was given 6 weeks to conclude the assignment and report back to the House for further Legislative action.