Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Friday, carpeted presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu for his spineless defence of alleged theft of stamp duty proceeds running into N89 trillion.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the principal actors or cartel as identified by Garba Shehu behind the stamp duty fraud must be uncovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and private investigators or auditors.
The group also dismissed Shehu’s comment that a committee under the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is working to recover and transfer all Stamp Duties into Stamp Duties Central Account. HURIWA said no truth can come from such a committee where the accused is investigating itself, asking can a jury be a judge in its own case.
A member of the House of Representatives, Muhammed Kazaure had raised the alarm of alleged theft of stamp duty proceeds running into N89 trillion, saying he is in possession of valid documents that prove the existence of such funds in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) custody.
He alleged that the apex bank has not remitted stamp duty revenue to government coffers as tax insisting that the bank remits only 60 per cent to the government while 40 per cent goes to private pockets
The lawmaker alleged that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele has kept another N171 billion dollars in the bank’s private investors account, being proceeds of stamp duty.
However, Shehu in a lengthy but illogically balanced statement, defended Emefiele, saying though as of April 2020, the total amount of foreign exchange traded was about $171 billion, the amount does not mean that Nigeria has $171 billion stacked away in some vault or saved in any account.
Shehu also said a committee under AGF Malami is “working to reconcile, recover and transfer all Stamp Duties into Stamp Duties Central Account” and that “the work is ongoing, it is not finished yet and the President will continue to show his keen interest in the matter of Stamp Duty collection”.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko stated, “The perfunctory and spineless defence by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu leaves any rational Nigerian in the sea of wonders! In one breath, Shehu claimed there is no fraud in the collection of stamp duty and in another breath, he claimed a committee has been set up to recover and reconcile stamp duties. What a sham! Grand double speak and coverup!
“HURIWA rejects Shehu’s insufficient explanation. Federal Government officials should cover their faces in shame if they are telling us this cock and bull story of consultants conspiring to loot stamp duty funds belonging to the members of the public. The government telling us about some ghost consultants is nonsense. This government must cough out this huge money or the principal characters behind the theft should prepare for prison life after government.
“The EFCC and private investigators/auditors should be allowed to probe this matter and not the office of the AGF which is also in this alleged scam/ mess by being a member of this government. Nothing truthful can emerge from the Malami committee.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately sack Emefiele for a transparent and objective investigation into this huge allegation by Kazaure. Anything aside from this is nonsense and won’t be tolerated.”
December 16, 2022
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.