Reps Begin Probe Of N6.5bn Unrecovered Revenue
The House of Representatives on Tuesday commenced investigation into activities of the Board Management of Lagos International Trade Complex (LITC) over unrecovered revenue worth N6.5 billion.
The resolution was passed during an investigative hearing held at the instance of the Ad-hoc Committee investigating Federal Government’s leased properties chaired by Hon. Daniel Asuquo who reiterated the Committee’s resolve towards recovering revenue accrued to various Agencies and Departments under Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The lawmakers during the investigative hearing also requested for reports conducted by Department of Weights and Measures on the infractions at the oil terminals by some of the operators.
According to the Ministry’s delegation, when asked whether the Ministry participates in checking the weights and oil terminals export terminal zones, the Director in charge of Weights and Measures said: “Yes the Weights and Measures Officers are present where custody transfers are being done at the terminals.
“And at present we are having an issue because of the clause that is in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which we are still appealing to the House to help us so that the Weights and Measures can exercise their judicious rights of ensuring that the measuring instruments for trades are accurate for fair trade and implementation of the Act that established the Weights and Measures Department.
According to her, the Weights and Measures at the terminals in the oil and gas sector should be ceded to the Upstream and for us that looks like saying that House of Reps should cede its work to Senate.
“Because there won’t be any checks and balances to be sincere. Saying that Weights and Measures should not be at hose terminals is highly risky because we deal with only instruments and some of those instruments actually, you’ll find out that there are manipulations.
“And it’s only through those checkings that we are able to know when it is not right,” she noted.
She also informed the lawmakers that the Department of Weights and Measures has done a lot in terms of savings of revenue accrued to Federal Government, adding that “recently there was one publication especially in both oil and non-oil.
“Some of the foreigners don’t even want our officers to go to check the weights bridges and the calibrations of what they do; because they know fully well that the accuracy of it will bring benefit.
“Because every work that Weights and Measures Officers carry out, there is a fee being paid to the government and once they are deprived of that exercise the revenue that suppose to come to government is not there. And that is why many of the organizations don’t want the presence of Weights and Measures.
“But we do a lot and we have a lot of such reports that we can escalate to the House for information,” she assured.
Also in his presentation, LITS Director Administration & Human Resources, Mr. Francis Dajilak told the committee that the complex was concessioned to Aulic Nigeria Limited in 2007.
He said that five major stakeholders including the Department of Security Service (DSS) existed in the complex before the concession.
Dajilak explained that after the concession, there were issues between the exiting stakeholders and the Aulic which delayed the implementation till 2008.
The Director said that between 2008 and 2017 when the contract was terminated, Olic did not remit funds to Federal Government as agreed in the contract.
According to him, between 2008 and 2017 when the contract was terminated, Aulic Nigeria Ltd was owing to a tone of N6.5 billion.
He said that all effort to recover the funds after the termination of the contract proved abortive.
Dajilak said that upon recovering the complex, the entire place was in a mess and the EFCC was invested to recover the funds.
He told the committee that EFCC made the but later released owners of Aulic after few weeks with no amount paid into government coffers.
Dajilak said that the LITC approached BPP to help recover the funds but no positive result has been achieved.
In his remarks, Counsel to Plaza Owners Association operating in the complex, Mr. Godson Okoye disclosed that if the complex is well managed it could generate N12 billion revenue annually.
He requested that the committee should give the association few days to put their position into writing and submit to the committee.
Okoye said that a lot was going wrong in the complex and a lot of their members had lost a lot of money.
The counsel said that some big businessmen operating in the complex had relocated to neighbouring countries as a result of bad management.
While ruling, Hon. Asuquo who reiterated the House resolve to protect the interest of Nigerians who had invested monies in the complex, vowed that the Committee will do all within its powers and the Constitution even if it means that heads will roll or stepping on toes.
The Chairman said that the committee is also interested in generating funds for the government saying all will be done to ensure that government makes more than N12 billion annually from the complex.
In the same vein, the lawmakers expressed concerns over the N200 million reportedly being generated yearly from the 383 shops and offices at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) by the Management Board.
To this end, the Committee requested for details of the contracts, properties under litigation and utilisation of the revenue accruing from the assets, just as they observed that the TBS Management Board committed grave infraction on the remittance of revenue into Treasury Single Account (TSA) instead of Special Concession Account as provided in the ICRC Act.