Jonathan_Diezani

move against abuse of Naira notes

Teddy Oscar, Abuja

The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its Committee on Gas to investigate the non-remittance of funds that accrued from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited Bonny to the federation account from 2004 till date, and report back to the House within three weeks.

Also at the plenary on the floor of the green chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday, the lawmakers moved to end theincessant abuse of the Naira notes by hawkers and traders by calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to probe the alleged ?bribe for new Naira notes? levelled against some of the bank?s officials.

The resolution to investigate the non-remittance of funds was sequel to a motion moved by Hon. Aminu Suleiman under matters of urgent public importance in which he noted that NLG has flagrantly disobeyed and breached Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution by not remitting funds accruing to it within the period under review.

Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended makes it mandatory for all revenue collected by the government of the federation to be remitted into the federation account.

?Non-remittance of funds accruing to NLNG Bonny from 2004 till date has adversely affected the federation account to the detriment of federal, states and local governments. The unpatriotic actions of those in charge of the NLNG Bonny from 2004 till date has resulted in loss of huge revenue that ought to he shared to all tiers of the government from the federation accounts for both recurrent and capital development. The non-remittance of funds that accrued to NLNG Bonny to the federation account from 2004 till date has badly affected all critical sectors of the Nigerian economy and constitute an economic crime,? Suleiman said.

The motion was, therefore, referred to the committee for necessary legislative actions without further debates from members.

Meanwhile, a resolution, which followed a motion moved by the duo of Hon. Ismail Inah Hussain and Hon. Nosakhare Isaac Osahon on the ?urgent need to energise the fight against the trading in Naira notes?, also called on CBN to replace old and mutilated notes from circulation.

In his presentation, Hussain recalled that Section 21(4) of the CBN Act of 2007 makes it a punishable offence for any person to hawk, sell or trade in Naira notes, coins or any other notes issued by the apex bank.

Hussain, who revealed that the illegal sale of the notes by bank officials and touts had persisted despite the provisions of the CBN Act, observed that the unlawful act has encouraged persistent scarcity of new lower Naira notes, particularly the N5, N10, N20 and N50 across the country, thereby creating an avenue for illegal currency hawkers to make brisk business.

He pointed out that hawkers receive a minimum of N200 commission for each N1,000 transaction at the popular Dei-Dei junction in Abuja.

He pleaded that the House should intervene immediately to salvage the dignity of the Naira notes, adding that culprits should be apprehended and prosecuted.

In his turn, Osahon described the illegal business as fraud and corruption in the highest order.

In his contribution, Hon. Fort Dike, was of the opinion that the Committee on Banking and Currency should also investigate the matter with a view to bringing the culprits to book, argued that it was the duty of CBN to periodically print new notes and withdraw old notes from circulation.

Hon. Arua Arunsi, who spoke against the motion, said it was as a result of high unemployment that forced many people to indulge in the business.

He stressed that many, who would have become criminals today, are in the business just to keep body and soul together, adding that if there were jobs for them, they would not have engaged in hawking and trading currency notes.

The House further called on the CBN to probe the matter and take punitive actions against defaulters, as well as withdraw old, mutilated notes from circulation.

The House also called on the Nigeria Police and State Security Service (SSS) to investigate, arrest and prosecute any bank official or any other person engage in the illicit business.

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