N30tn leakage: Senate panel quizzes Airtel, BUA, 61 others

N30tn leakage: Senate panel quizzes Airtel, BUA, 61 others The Senate Joint Committee on Customs and Marine Transport, as part of its investigation into the alleged N30tn revenue leakage in the import and export value chain, has quizzed over 60 companies.

The Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, said at an investigative meeting with of some the companies in Abuja on Tuesday that the firms would be invited in batches.

He stated that the panel would do anything to recover the funds.

The lawmaker stated that with the success achieved by the panel so far, it would do its best to bring the investigation to a conclusion soon.

He said the committee had already identified about 60 companies whose infractions were within the range of N10bn and above, after which it would move to the next batch.

Companies invited to Tuesday’s meeting are Airtel Nigeria, British American Tobacco Company, CCECC Nigeria Limited, the BUA Group, China Export Limited, CFAO Group, Chi Limited, Bhojsons Limited, Bharat Ventures Limited and the Boulos Group.

Others are African Wire and Allied Limited, Admiral Overseas Nigeria Limited, CKS International Limited, Abyem-Diva International Limited and Aarti Steel Nigeria Limited.

While decrying the level of complicity in the import and export value chain in the country, Uzodinma said the National Assembly would ensure that measures were taken to stop the corruption.

He said, “This is a continuation of the investigation that is ongoing and we have now started interfacing with the various companies that are directly involved in the infractions that we identified in the course of our investigation.

“Most of the companies have no evidence to show that our position is not correct. So, it is our hope that working together, whether you are from the executive arm, judiciary or the legislature, we must acknowledge the need for us to protect our national interest. We must grow this economy. Over the years, we over relied on oil revenue.”

He added, “The only way to rescue the economy from the present state is to expand our sources of income by strengthening the non-oil revenue earnings.

“The companies have pleaded to come back on Tuesday, and then we will invite the Nigeria Customs Service to issue necessary demand notices to all established cases. Then, the companies will make payments into the Federation Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Uzodinma explained that the probe was being done in stages, adding that the committee had interfaced with the commercial banks, collecting banks and the various agencies of government.

“It won’t be out of place to give them one week to get back to us. We will do this to satisfy the doctrine of fair hearing; and if there is anything they have to say to the contrary, they will have the opportunity to defend themselves. We do hope that after the session, the government will be able to earn more money,” he added.

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