House of Representatives has said it would be compelled to issue bench warrant against bank Chief Executive officers, CEO if they fail to appear before an adhoc committee charged with the probe of non remittance of stamp duty deductions by banks in the country’s.
The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Accountant General of the Federation,zero Ahmed Idris, also risk been attested for their failure to appear before the committee.
The committee made the arrest threat at their sitting on Thursday.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives, had on April 25, 2019, resolved to “mandate the set up of an ad hoc committee to urgently investigate the non-remittance of trillions into the Federation Account of TSA and report back to the House within four weeks.”
The lawmakers, during the resolution, had accused banks who made the deductions of non-remittance of about N2.8tn to Federal Government coffers, contravening the Treasury Single Account policy.
At the sitting, the panel dismissed the representatives of the banks as not eligible to speak for their respective organisations and bosses.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr Ahmad Abubakar, said: “We can see that the Office of the Accountant-General and the Office of Attorney-General are conspicuously not here.”
According to him, those absent from the hearing had critical roles to play in the deliberations and final decisions to be taken by the lawmakers.
“The chief executive officers of all agencies are supposed to be here. If by any reason they cannot attend, we expected their written authority, authorising somebody, not below the executive management level; even that is with the authority from the CEO. Otherwise, the organisation will be deemed not to have been here, and it is a serious matter.
“After this hearing, if it needs issuing a bench warrant, we are going to do that; This is a very serious issue. My colleagues are here and this will be our resolve. I don’t know whether most of the people that are here are below these two categories — either the CEO or executive director. We want people who can take critical decisions on behalf of their organisations. I don’t want you to come here and something is resolved, later the CEO would say ‘I am not here and I cannot…’ Whatever is the decision here is binding”, Abubakar added.
A member of the committee, Mr Danburam Nuhu, in his contribution, criticised those who failed to attend the hearing.
“I can see from the roll call that only three banks are represented by somebody from their executive management. Those banks are Polaris, GTBank and Sterling Bank. All other banks don’t have somebody from their executive management.
“As clearly stated by you, Mr Chairman, it is the position of the committee to assume that they are not present at this hearing. It is clear that if the committee chooses to give another date, at the end of the day, they are still not present. I think the next thing as you clearly stated is that we go ahead and issue a bench warrant against the CEOs of the banks. That means that we will arrest them and compel them to be here,” he said.
Mr Adekunle Akinoade, a member of the panel, moved a motion that any agency or organisation without the CEO in attendance and without an executive director with a written mandate to represent them should be considered absent from the hearing.
The motion was seconded and unanimously adopted by other members of the panel.
Nuhu thereafter ruled that the representatives in attendance, most of whom did not meet the criteria set by the lawmakers, would be allowed to remain as spectators without their submissions taken.
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