By Henry Umoru
THE Senate is at the moment investigating reported cases of alleged failure by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to remit stamp duties totaling over N20 trillion to the Federation Account.
Disclosing this yesterday to Journalists in Abuja, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kaduna Central who noted that the Committee was at the moment, looking into the matter, however warned against inflammatory and potentially damaging comments on the issue.
Senator Sani who noted that the committee has received petitions on this allegation against the CBN, however explained that in the past six months, the lawmakers have been investigating the matter, adding that what the Committee has uncovered so far was what was raised in the petition against the apex bank.
The Senator who pleaded with members of the public, especially critical stakeholders, not to be in a hurry in coming to a conclusion that the CBN has actually erred, that that since he and other members of the Committee were inaugurated, the issue of supposed non- remittance of stamp duty by the CBN had been on the top burner and that has been receiving requisite attention at the Committee level.
Senator Sani who disclosed that the Senate Committee has obtained records of other agencies of the Federal Government investigating or familiar with the matter, said, “It is much more complicated than what most Nigerians know. However, what I can say for now is that from what we have been able to sieve out from documents available to us as well as the depositions we have taken, it is clear that so many forces are confusing Nigerians on this issue.
“With the evidence contained in the plethora of documents the CBN has supplied to my Committee, it can easily be deduced that the total stamp duty unremitted can not be over N20 trillion as being alleged. For one, from records available to us, the total deposit in the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria as of 2016 was only about N18 trillion; so how then can Stamp Duties alone be N21 trillion as being claimed by some petitioners?”
According to the lawmaker, from records available to the committee, Stamp Duty collection commenced in January 2016 when the CBN issued the circular directing Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to commence imposition of stamp duty collection and that from the records the CBN and other agencies of the Federal Government have supplied to the Senate Committee, it is glaring that the total number of transactions, including transactions excluded from stamp duty charge, from 2016 to November 2017 is about N518,043,467.
He said, “If you do the simple arithmetic, the stamp duty on these transactions would have amounted to about N25.902 billion. Don’t also forget that Savings Accounts are exempted from payment of stamp duty by law, and these account for about 75 per cent of all bank accounts. With all things considered, my committee believes that the sum remitted by banks to the Stamp Duty Collection Account with the CBN from inception in January 2016 would well be around N41 billion as of October 2019. But like I said, investigations are still on-going. Be rest assured that our conclusive findings would be made available to the public. Nigerians deserve to know the whole truth.”
When asked if his committee has been shown prove that the said N41 billion earned from stamp duty has been remitted to the Federation Account by the CBN, Senator Uba Sani who noted that the Senate Committee was aware of a number of court cases preventing the CBN to make the remittances, said, “That is exactly what I was trying to make you understand, this matter is more complex than the petitioners are making it seem. For example, we have found out that the CBN is somewhat shackled and unable to make the remittances because of pending cases in court; particularly the one pending in the Supreme Court. I don’t want to give too much details on the matters that are in court, you can find out from either the CBN or parties in the matter. But I believe the CBN is acting out of respect for the courts.”