Reps probe banks over duties , investigate shooting of female student in Plateau
The decision followed the adoption of a motion entitled, “Need to Investigate the Customs Duties Remitted by Commercial Banks to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from January 2014 till Date, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Alagbaoso and 11 others.
Alagbaoso said the aim of the motion was to obtain proofs that such remittances were made.
He alleged that banks delayed remittances to government in spite of the implementation of e-payment procedure.
He said: “nearly all the service providers of the Nigeria Customs Service handed over their Build Operate and Transfer services to the personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service on Dec. 1, 2013.
“There is a new regime of e-payment that all government revenues, such as customs duties, when paid, will be credited to the Central Bank of Nigeria almost instantly or within 24 hours.
“I am also aware that banks provide online, all the Forms M applied for by importers and so banks should not delay or hold on to government revenues, especially customs duties, in order to shore up their deposit base, liquidity or balance in their residual accounts or divert or invest them for some quick returns on investment,”.
The legislator alleged that some accounting officers in the banks appeared to lose sight of the status of approved Forms M and their utilisation.
“And in some cases, they do not bear in mind the allowable period of non-utilisation just to dump the Forms M, which adversely affects the payment of full duties.
“Also some accounting officers in the banks ignore the difference between the utilisation and application of the Form M,’’ he said.
The legislator said such attitude by banks negated ‘’the CBN’s guidelines for FOREX issuance of Form M and its utilisation within an allowable prosecution or litigation period which tends to affect customs duties negatively”.
The Speaker of the assembly, Rep. Yakubu Dogara mandated the Committee on Customs and Excise to carry out the probe and report back within eight weeks.
The House also resolved to investigate the alleged sexual harassment and shooting of a female student by a soldier in Plateau State.
The action followed a motion jointly moved by Reps. Istifanus Gyang (Plateau-PDP) and Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC). Moving the motion, Gyang informed the House that on the Oct. 19, 2017, Indigenes of Sopp in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State embarked on a protest against soldiers manning checkpoint in the community, who allegedly caused the death of two boys.
He added that in the course of the protest, one of the soldiers a 17-year-old SS1 female student of Government Secondary School, Sopp, for allegedly refusing his sexual advances. Gyang told the assembly that he personally visited the girl in the hospital where she opened up to him about the sexual harassment and deliberate shooting by the soldier.
The lawmaker further disclosed that apart from the girl two other people, Danjuma kaze and his son, Irimiya, were also shot and were receiving treatment at Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos.
“The Military is massively engaged in internal security operations across the nation as part of the commitment of government to live up to its foremost constitutional responsibility of ensuring the wellbeing, safety and security of the citizens.
“In the process of understanding this onerous task, the military has been contending with cases of human rights abuses, some of which have attracted the attention and condemnation of Amnesty International.
“While the military high command has repeatedly assured the citizens of its commitment to the observance of human rights as amply embedded in the rules of engagement, there are behaviours and actions of some operatives that are negating this noble quest.
“The military personnel whom the nation has entrusted with the responsibility of protecting lives and property of citizens are turning round to constitute a threat to the people.”
On his part, Rep Edward Pwajok, a co-mover of the motion, noted that since the girl identified the soldier and was ready to testify, she should be provided security because her life was presently in danger.
The Leader of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila questioned the involvement of military in the internal security of Plateau when they were continually empowered to protect the nation from external aggregation.
He noted that if the military were to perform such duty in Plateau it would have been subject to approval of National Assembly.
The leader blamed the legislature for the gap and advocated the quick passage of a bill that would curb incessant killings by the military.
Gbajabiamila also stressed the need for the legislature to properly define what constituted sexual harassment.
“It is important we qualify and establish what is sexual harassment, if we live that window open, we cannot give comprehensive sanction,’’ he said.
Rep. Betty Apiafi (Rivers-PDP), suggested that ‘’we should use more of the police to solve internal problems.