The Nigerian Government Tuesday reacted to the allegation that N89 trillion, being proceeds of stamp duties, was missing.
According to the presidency, no such money exists. It also said that a committee, headed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is working to reconcile stamp duties, after which it would transfer the monies to a Stamp Duties Central Account.
Garba Shehu, who is President Muhammadu Buhari’s special assistant on media and publicity, gave the explanation. Shehu’s explanation follows the allegation by Hon. Muhammadu Kazaure that the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele had stolen the N89trillion.
The legislator also claimed he was being prevented from seeing the president to lay his committee’s report on the missing money.
In his clarification, Shehu said President Buhari had at a time set up a special recovery committee over the alleged trapped N89trillion but later disbanded it.
He explained that a consultant had claimed the money was trapped in the inter-banking system. To recover the money on the government’s behalf, the consultant demanded a professional fee of 7.5 per cent of the alleged trapped money.
“Following the lack of progress in the promised recovery, the late chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari, wrote on March 8, 2018 to the SGF conveying a presidential directive that following the lack of progress and several expressed concerns received, the activities of the consultants be discontinued.
“In the aftermath of this dismissal, the consultants sued the government.
“A court of competent jurisdiction subsequently ruled in favour of the government.
Shehu said the administration went to the national assembly and caused an amendment to the law and removed NIPOST from the duty of its collection.
He said having lost a potentially “lucrative” line of “business,” the sacked “characters returned to the drawing board to formulate one form of trick or another to intimidate the government but the vigilant teams of the administration kept them at bay”.
Shehu further explained that they returned lately to the government through “honourable Muhammadu Gudaji Kazaure with a plan to track the so-called lost stamp duties with the erstwhile consultant as chairman and honourable Gudaji as secretary”.
“When it emerged that the petitioner and lead consultant of the committee the President had dissolved via the late Abba Kyari’s letter of March 28 had masqueraded himself and re-emerged as the chairman of the new recovery committee championed by the Hon. Gudaji, the President rescinded the approval he gave and asked that it be stopped from operating under the seal of his office,” Shehu further explained.
“In addition to this committee being chaired by a petitioner, there were also other concerns relating to natural justice and fair hearing in having the chief justice of the federation as a committee member and a serving member of the house of representatives as secretary, which are not in line with section 5(1),(a)&(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Once the president rescinded his approval to constitute this committee, [it] lost all legitimacy.
“Arguments have in recent days been flying left and right over the rightfulness of a committee being dissolved.
“People are entitled to hold opinions. But these opinions do not change the fact that under our constitution, the power of the president to appoint and remove persons or groups is duly entrenched and unless such powers are shared with the parliament, the President can hire and fire literally at will, and in line with the law.”
Shehu said the government subsequently realised that no money was missing and decided to terminate the appointment of the consultant.