From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The House of Representatives Public Account Committee (PAC) has queried the payment of N15 billion to Remita (a payment platform that collects revenue for the government), by the Office of the Accountant General for the Federation (OAGF) between 2016 and 2018.

The PAC Chairman, Bamidele Salam, who raised the query, at an investigative hearing, yesterday, said the payment was questionable as it was allegedly done without agreement or contract.

Salam said the money was an illegal payment; there was no budget provision, so where did they source the money from? The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also shared in the money.

He said if, for instance, someone pays N150, there is expected to be an additional payment of  7.5 per cent Value-Added Tax (VAT), which ought to be remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

According to him, “ordinarily, that whole sum of VAT ought to go to FIRS, but what they are doing in this transaction is that they will now add that VAT to the N150. They will add it up, gather the money together, and take it to the CBN.”

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However, Director, Banking Services, CBN, Ahmed Abdullahi, told the panel that  Remita and System Spec were selected because they had been rendering similar services to banks.

He said Remita was engaged in 2011 and operations commenced in 2012 with system module names, stating the CBN only finalised the transaction.

Meanwhile, the committee has said the continuous failure of  the Chairman of FIRS, Zacch Adedeji, to honour its invitations was tantamount to contempt of parliament.

Salam said apart from writing the FIRS boss formally, the letters were sent directly to his mailbox and WhatsApp number.

He said: “This is the fourth time the committee would be inviting the FIRS chairman but failed to show up. And we condemn and describe it as irresponsible and arrogant, and we tell him there will be consequences if he continues this contempt of the parliament.”