By Cecilia Ijuo
The Senate says that the ongoing probe into alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage in the country’s import and export value chain is not a charade as perceived by some Nigerians.
The probe covers activities in the value chain between 2006 and 2017.
Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff and Marine Transport, which is conducting the investigation, told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday that some firms alleged involved in the process had begun “confessions’’.
The lawmaker assured that no amount of blackmail would deter the committee from carrying out its constitutional role, particularly with regard to issues that had direct impact on Nigerians.
“If there is anybody who is still in doubt whether there are recoverable revenues of government in the hands of these companies, by the admission of some of them, it means that the person should better wake up.
“We call on all Nigerians to support the Senate. We are all very serious men and women.
“We are professionals in different fields of endeavour and when we have decided to come here to serve the country, we mean every word of it.
“What we are doing and showing by this investigation is that the country can be better and that we can move from where we are now to where we expect the country to be,’’ he said.
Uzodinma dismissed insinuations that the committee’s investigation was shrouded in secrecy, saying it was unfounded.
He, however, said that the committee was being careful in disclosing some details as the investigation was still ongoing, and that making the details public now may jeopardise the process.
“We are not shrouding anything in secrecy.
“The public is interested in this investigation and you know the Stock Exchange is an important platform for trade in Nigeria.
“We don’t want to create unnecessary panic in the market as some of the companies are public-quoted.
“There is a signal we will let to the market that will destroy the image and integrity of these companies.
“We have not arrived at any conclusion because the investigation is still on. On the final day, we will do a full blown news briefing so that Nigeria will know the outcome of our exercise,’’ he said.
Uzodinma disclosed that of the over 60 companies being investigated, the committee had met with 11.
He said that in the new phase, the committee was meeting with each of the firms at a time and would continue in that manner until they were exhausted.
He said “some of the companies approached the committee and expressed their willingness to support our investigation because the process of the investigation may require them revealing some of their trade secrets.
“In order not to breach the secrecy that has to do with their business modules, we agreed to their terms because our interest is to achieve result.
“Some of the companies that appeared before us today have also committed to our success by way of making some admissions here and there.’’
The chairman said the committee would carry out the mandate given to it by helping government to recover some of the funds as well as block leakages, moving forward.
He said that though the efforts of the lawmakers were not being appreciated, they would continue to make the sacrifice to take the country to where it ought to be.
He commended the Police for swinging into action when a warrant for arrest of absconding firms was issued, noting that the action forced the firms to appear before the committee.
Uzodinma called on the media to also support the course of the National Assembly.
The companies that met with the committee on Wednesday were Dana Group, China Export, Emel Group, Halliburton, Bhojson Plc, Bharat Ventures Ltd, Bua International Ltd, Friesland Campina, Boulos Group, CFAO Group and British American Tobacco Company.