The President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki, has said that no amount of intimidation will stop the assembly from investigating the alleged N25 billion Treasury Single Account (TSA) fraud. Saraki was reacting to a motion moved by Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West) on Tuesday over a newspaper article allegedly blackmailing the Senate for pointing out the alleged fraud.
He said the assembly would not relent in carrying out its constitutional duties, including pointing out any action that would be detrimental to Nigerians. “No amount of either blackmail or intimidation will stop us from doing the work we have to do.
“We have a responsibility here to ensure that there are no leakages in government funds and if there are, we will call the attention of the public and do whatever it takes to salvage the situation; it is our responsibility.
“ The fact about the TSA will come out and everybody will have opportunity before the committee to state the fact, the facts will speak for themselves,’’ he said. Saraki said the assembly would expedite action on the inauguration of Standing Committees to enable it to begin its oversight function fully.
Earlier, Dino Melaye said his attention was drawn to the write-up accusing the Senate of working against President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort to implement TSA.
He expressed concern that the writer could conceive such an idea in spite of the National Assembly’s resolve to work with Buhari in fighting corruption.
Melaye recalled that it was the assembly’s stand on the alleged TSA fraud that led SystemSpecs to refund the one per cent it collected from mopped up funds to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). “The writer said we are against the change agenda of Mr President because we raised the abnormality going on with the implementation of the TSA.
“We did not at any time in this Hallowed Chamber implicate President Muhammadu Buhari of being involved in TSA fraud. “ We will not stop carrying out our legislative duties for fear of being blackmailed. “The motion moved last week had two prayers.
“The first thing we did was to thank Mr President and commend him for the implementation of the TSA and for anyone to say the Senate is fighting Mr President is myopic, parochial and unacceptable. “I have a letter here that I am going to lay with this paper, written by the Director, Banking and Payment of CBN to the Managing Director of SystemSpecs.
“The CBN categorically stated that they should remit the one per cent that they collected. “I also have a letter here by the managing director of that company to the Accountant General of the Federation and the Governor of CBN that have completely buttressed and elicited our decision last week.
“ So for people to blackmail us as irresponsible, it is not acceptable to me and the Senate. “Never would we allow blackmail and political and economic bigots to destroy the people. We are for the people and we will stand in defence of public interest,’’ he said. The write-up and letters cited by Melaye were referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition to be returned to Senate in one week.
The Senate had on Nov. 11 raised alarm over alleged payment of N25 billion to one e-collection firm, REMITA, in one day as one per cent of monies transferred to TSA. It also directed its Committee on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back in two weeks.