$43.4m: NIA may sell apartment

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  • As Adeosun says Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio unacceptably low

Apartment 7B, the Osborne Towers expensive home where $43.4m was found, may be sold, it was learnt yesterday.

A Presidential Investigative Committee is probing the suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ayo Oke, over the cash and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, for a N200million contract awarded to a company, Global Vision Limited,  linked with him.

There were indications yesterday that:
•the committee may have concluded the SGF’s case, which a source described as “straightforward”;
•the Presidency is of the opinion that the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno, has no case to answer on the $43.4m; and that
•the committee may not ask Monguno, who is one of its members, to step aside.

It was learnt that a directive had been given to the agency to put the apartment in the property market.
The apartment may fetch the agency about N200 million, a source said.

The outcome of the Osinbajo Committee’s report will determine whether or not the EFCC has any further role to play on the seized $43.4 million and the N200 million alleged contract scandal.

A source in the anti-graft agency said: “Once the report is submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, whatever we should do will be communicated by the Presidency through the committee.

“If any public officer will further be investigated or prosecuted, it is the committee which will determine the next step.

“So far, it is becoming clearer that more public officers might have cases to answer.”
The EFCC has filed an application before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos for the permanent forfeiture of the $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000, which it recovered at the Osborne Towers apartment to the Federal Government.

Any person or agency claiming ownership of the cash is expected to appear before the judge on May 5, with proof, to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the government.
There were speculations that the SGF had been recommended for trial but no committee member or presidency official could confirm this last night.

“I think Lawal has got wind of the decision of the committee but he is unruffled,” a source added.
There were indications that Gen. Monguno may not be asked to step aside from the committee.
Oke had claimed that the NSA was in the picture of the seized $43.4 million, which he said was part of a $289 million Special Intervention Funds.

He told the panel that he wrote a memo to the NSA on January 26, 2016 on the $289 million released to NIA and attached a list of nine projects being executed.

In the meantime, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that the nation’s tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio, which is currently put at six per cent, is one of the lowest in the world.

She said with such a ratio, which is less than the 15 per cent for Ghana, there was no way the country could generate enough non-oil revenue to enable the government to implement its programmes.

Adeosun, according to a statement issued by the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Salisu Dambatta, stated this in a presentation made at The Platform in Lagos on Tuesday.

She said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was building a productive Nigerian economy for a sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The minister stated that the Federal Government was calling for greater focus on the productive sectors of the economy to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.

Adeosun said while mistakes had been made in the past, the Buhari administration was looking ahead and laying the ground work to build a resilient economy that was not vulnerable to oil volatility.

She said, “While oil proceeds have represented between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the Federal Government revenue over the past three years, it has contributed 10 per cent or less to the Gross Domestic Product in the same period.

“We must change our growth model to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth by broadening the range of our economic activities in the production and distribution of goods and services.

“We have an unacceptably low level of non-oil revenue and much of that is driven by a failure to collect tax revenues. With a tax to GDP ratio of only six per cent, one of the lowest levels in the world, we have a lot of work to do if we are going to build a sustainable revenue base that will deliver inclusive growth.”

The minister said the focus of the government this year was to improve tax revenue through ensuring voluntary compliance with tax laws.

Adeosun added, “We are going to focus on tax in 2017. We will improve our tax to GDP ratio, block leakages and increase compliance.

“We will also introduce taxes on luxury items and excise duties on tobacco and alcohol.”

Nation with additional report from Punch

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