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Banks, MDAs connive to divert govt revenues –Lawan

…urges anti-graft agencies to beam searchlight on lenders

The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmmed Lawan, yesterday, alleged that banks were conniving with the revenue generating agencies of government to divert funds that should have been remitted to the nation’s Consolidate Revenue Account.

Lawan stated this in Abuja while receiving in audience, members of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN), pointing out that corruption was not limited to the public sector.

He therefore called on the country’s anti-graft agencies to extend their searchlights to operations of commercial banks in the country, which, he said, were conniving with agencies of government to defraud the country of revenues through opening of accounts without approval of the Accountant General of the Federation. According to him, the anti-corruption agencies should look into the direction of banks in checkmating practices such as diversion of funds and operation of accounts for players in the public sectors without approval of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF).

To effectively address the issue of revenue leakages in the system, Lawan advised the Federal Government to explore the use of relevant technology for the purpose of revenue collection by its agencies so as to prevent the diversion of public funds into private pockets.

“Our experience in the National Assembly recently has shown that the revenue generating agencies of government, many of them, will collect revenues, but not all the revenues are remitted to the appropriate account of government. We believe that we can do better if we deploy technology in the collection and transmission of the revenues.

“That is why the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has received complete support from the National Assembly to become more digital in the area of collection of revenues so that we limit leakages and embezzlement that some officers would try to engage in.

“It is not only in government agencies that we have this kind of attitude, even in private organisations. So, our anti-corruption agencies should go beyond looking at what the government agencies are doing, they should also look at what our banks are doing.

“Some of these banks, I don’t have figures or names, a lot of times we have placed implicit trust in them, but money are diverted and accounts that have no approval of the accountant general to be opened will be operated.

“Before the introduction of TSA, we have had stories of hundreds of bank accounts operated by some agencies, but, of course, we know the limit the accountant-general of the federation has approved for agencies of government to operate.

“The malaise of corruption is deep-seated, needing concerted efforts to tame, and so, efforts at nationbuilding should be continuous with all hands being on deck to achieve this success. I, therefore, commend the front from which you are operating and I encourage you not to relent,” he said.

Meanwhile, the president of the Senate promised that the National Assembly would expeditiously consider the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria Bill presently pending before the National Assembly for passage. Earlier, Protem President of CIFIPN, Dr. Ayeshetu Enape, said that the forensic and investigative profession involved practitioners made up of people of diverse academic backgrounds cutting across law, criminology, cyber security, police detectives, economists and finance specialists. According to her, the procedures deployed by the professional body in investigations “involves the skilful deployment of science and technological tools to prevent, detect, or resolve or expose possible criminal activity emanating from economic transactions.”

She added that “the emergence of forensic and investigative profession on the global scene was based on the realisation that fraudsters have gone sophisticated and in some instances, are taking advantage of the 21st century digital revolution to perpetrate corrupt practices that are undetectable by conventional investigative approach.”

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