By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate has mandated its Committees on Finance and Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to investigate alleged N20 trillion unremitted stamp duties revenue in the last five years, and report back within eight weeks.
It, also commended the tenacity and fortitude of the School of Banking Honours, SBH for bringing the issue of unremitted stamp duties revenue to public notice, and for insisting on probity of the Nigerian Inter Bank Settlement System, NIBSS.
The senate resolution followed a motion, sponsored by Senator John Owan Enoh (APC Cross River Central) and co-sponsored by 10 other senators. On “Urgent need to investigate allegations of Unremitted Stamp Duties Revenue running into trillions of naira”,
Presenting the motion, Senator Enoh said the Upper House was “perturbed by recent reports in the media that over N7 trillion in stamp duties revenue from electronic cashless transactions remain unpaid to the federation since 2015, and that the total volume of unremitted stamp duties fund is about N20 trillion”.
He said it was also “worried that the provision for stamp duty in the revenue framework of the nation’s annual budget for 2015, 2016 and 2017 has been N8.713b, N66.138b and 16.96b respectively despite the above reports”.
Enoh added that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN had declared in 2013 that stamp duties revenue accruals from five states only was over N160 billion.
According to him, the senate was apprised of the anti-stamp duties collection stance of the NIBSS currently being accused of systemic diversion of huge revenue flows from stamp duties collection on the electronic transfer receipt on online bank transactions, and the necessity to demand notice on all unremitted stamp duties.
He submitted that it was “the duties and responsibilities of the National Assembly to ensure the harnessing of all sources of revenue to the government of the federation and to curb all forms of wastefulness, corruption and diversion of funds belonging to the federation”.
According to Senator Enoh, the Stamp Duty Act is one of the oldest and enduring laws in Nigeria since 1939, and that application of stamp duties has institutionally been a significant revenue earner for both federal and state governments since independence, thus accounting for almost a quarter of the taxation resources, annually.
Contributing, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC Kaduna North), faulted the revenue profile quoted in the motion, noting that it was not done in accordance with the laid down procedure of approvals.
He said: “The revenue profile under stamp duty for 2015-2017 were captured as N8.7billion; N66.1billion and N16.9 billion for the three years, but did not show probity it does not show that allocation of whatever is indicated under the stamp duty of each of those years.
“The same item of revenue in 2015 was N8.7 billion even though the collection has not been indicated. This is an indication that whosoever is providing these figures is not doing in consonant with any laid down procedure of the actual expectation from approvals on that item.
“There is no way N8 billion will be provided this year and then the next year, N66 billion is provided on the same sub head. What had been in those years is only but a fraction.
We should as a matter of necessity that stands to be one of the responsibilities of the National Assembly”.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate Mr Ike Ekweremadu said the motion was a very straightforward one .
“The one of the resolutions was that, there be a public hearing, we need to limit our contributions so that we don’t prejudice the public hearing.”
The motion was thereafter unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.