Senate summons ministers, AGF, four firms over e-passport deals
The Senate ad hoc committee investigating alleged misuse, under remittance, and other fraudulent activities in the collection, remittance and expenditure of internally generated revenue by MDAs has invited the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Minister of Interior, General Danbazzau and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris over alleged shady deals in the production and sale of e-passport.
Also summoned by the committee to shed light on the multi-billion naira production and sale of e-passport includes four companies.
They are to appear before the Senator Solomon Adeola led committee to explain their roles on e-Passport production and other immigration related issues that the companies performed on behalf of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). The firms were said to have entered into public private partnership (PPP) arrangement with the NIS over the years.
The invited companies included Contec Nigeria Ltd, Greater Washington Nigeria Ltd, New work Solution and Investment Ltd, and Iris Smart Technologies which works on e-passport production, expatriate residence permit and alien card and related immigration.
The companies are also said to have contractual agreements to perform some revenue generating service on behalf of the NIS “with the companies withholding a hefty percentage of revenue that would have accrued to the Federal Government.”
Senator Adeola issued the invitation following the presentation made by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Mohammed Babandede, on the revenue profile of the service. The committee wanted to know how generated revenue, “running into billions of naira and dollar, were shared by the companies, NIS and the Federal Government.”
Adeola said, “I am at loss why huge part of revenue generated by NIS continued to be paid to private firms in the name of PPP that should actually be based on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT).
“We cannot continue to deny Nigerians the benefits that would accrue to them through increase revenue to government coffers instead of huge earnings for private concerns.
“This is an area that government can generate huge revenue. There is need to get clarifications on this issue from all the parties involved.”
The CG of NIS, in his presentation, noted that the reasons for entering into PPP arrangement at the time the government did was attributed to inadequate funding and late release of budgeted sums, multiple acquisition of travel documents and poor revenue generation. He added that the private partners provided all the funding while money realized in the course of issuing facilities is shared with government in order to allow the private partners recoup their investment.
The Immigration boss said that for the period of investigation by the Senate between 2012-2016 total remittance to Federal Government stood at over N17 billion and over$112million.
He noted that “revenue accruing to government has increased almost a hundred fold since the introduction of these (PPP) agreements”.