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CBN, FIRS Bosses Ignore Subsidy Hearing

The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate the Petroleum Products Subsidy Regime from 2013 to 2022 has slammed the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, for failing to show up at its investigative hearing.

At the continued hearing of the committee in Abuja on Thursday, Emefiele and Nami sent representatives who the lawmakers dismissed as junior officials that would not be able to give specific answers to their queries.

The committee is probing into payment of subsidy in Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, by the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited).

 A member of the committee, Mark Gbillah, said, “It said that N6.7tn, in less than a year, is being expended on subsidy. We would expect that the CBN governor would come here personally to address such an issue and the FIRS chairman as well. I guess they believe this issue is not important enough for them to be here.

“So, Mr Chairman, in my own opinion, I don’t think we should bother hearing any of the representatives of these two agencies that are here today. We would like the CBN governor and FIRS chairman to be here in person before this honourable committee of the House to address this critical issue.”

The Deputy Director, Banking Services, CBN, Hussein Kagara, who was asked to speak on Emefiele’s non-appearance, said, “If all the questions that you are going to ask are related to technical matters that concern subsidy payments, I will be able to provide answers here. But if they are outside the technical aspects of the subsidy transactions, then I will not be able to respond.”

Kagara added, “With respect to the issue of documents, the truth of the matter is that some of these documents are actually voluminous and we can’t print most of these documents. For example, in one of your requests, you asked us to produce all the accounts of NNPC that are domiciled with the CBN; NNPC has close to 200 accounts with CBN and they are voluminous.”

The Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, consequently disqualified the CBN governor’s representative.

Aliyu said, “There are areas that you cannot answer. You see, this is the fundamental reason why the senior members of the management are supposed to appear before the committee. We are left with no alternative but to follow the procedure of the House. Where you cannot provide hardcopies (of requested documents), provide soft copies.

“We will expect you on the 18th of August. The motion (is) passed. The FIRS chairman is to appear before this committee on 18th of August, 2022.”

The committee similarly dismissed Nami’s representative, who is a Deputy Director and SSA to the FIRS chairman, Gabriel Ogunjemilusi.

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