Senate accuses Banks of aiding govt officials to divert funds

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Thursday urged anti-graft agencies in the country to bean their searchlights on private organizations in their fight against corruption.

Lawan who gave the charge when the leadership of the Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria (CIFIPN) visited him in Abuja, also accused banks in the country of aiding government agencies to divert funds.

He insisted that the investigative activities of the nation’s anti-corruption should not be limited to government agencies in the task to curb corruption in the country.

Lawan said: “Our experience in the National Assembly recently has shown that the revenue-generating agencies of government, many of them, will collect revenues but not all the revenues are remitted to the appropriate account of government.

“We believe that we can do better if we deploy technology in the collection and transmission of the revenues.

“That is why the Federal Inland Revenue Service has received complete support from the National Assembly to become more digital in the area of collection of revenues so that we limit leakages and embezzlement that some officers would try to engage in.

“It is not only in government agencies that we have this kind of attitude, even in private organizations. So our anti-corruption agencies should go beyond looking at what the government agencies are doing.

“They should also look at what our banks are doing. Some of these banks, I don’t have figures or names, a lot of times we have placed implicit trust in them but monies are diverted and accounts that have no approval of the Accountant General to be opened will be operated.

“Before the introduction of TSA, we have had stories of hundreds of bank accounts operated by some agencies but of course, we know the limit the Accountant-General of the Federation has approved for agencies of government to operate.

“The malaise of corruption is deep-seated, needing concerted efforts to tame, and so efforts at Nation-building should be continuous with all hands being on deck to achieve this success.

He advocated the use of technology in the collection and transmission of revenue into appropriate government coffers to reduce embezzlement and stealing.

He said: “Let me digress a bit here. It is not only the quantum of money, resources or revenues that we have as a country that can make you perform in an area of infrastructural development.

“It is how efficient, economic, prudent, and how effective you are able to deploy those resources.

“We once had a lot of resources in this country and yet the bulk of it went into private pockets and therefore we could achieve very little.

“Today we have little and can achieve much because genuine fear has gripped everyone that if you embezzle or steal, the law will catch up with you.

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“So there is that fear and therefore those who try to take advantage of the system are much more careful even those you can still find those who can say no matter what let me try.

“Of course, that will always be at the back of the mind of everyone. So we are using the resources much more effectively than when we had more.

“I believe that if we can have more revenues, we can achieve more. It is practical because it (CIFIPN Bill) seeks to provide skills to relevant professionals on the use of science and technology to prevent detect and investigate corruption.”

Earlier, President of the CIFIPN, Dr. Ayeshetu Victoria Enape, said that the visit was primarily to urge the Senate to assist in passing a bill sponsored by the Institute which seeks to provide skills to relevant professionals on the use of science and technology to prevent detect and investigate corruption.

She said that the institute has also resolved to confer the position of patron on the Senate President.

According to her, “the emergence of the forensic and investigative profession on the global scene was based on the realization that fraudsters have gone sophisticated and in some instances are taking advantage of the 21st digital revolution to perpetrate corrupt practices that are undetectable by conventional investigative approach.”

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