N40bn debt: Senate panel summons IGP, DSS DG

Senate Ad-Hoc committee probing alleged misuse of revenue, under-remittance and other fraudulent activities in the collection, accounting, remittance and expenditure of Internally Generated Revenue by revenue-generating agencies, has summoned Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and the Director General of Directorate of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura to assist the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in ejecting concessionaire of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, AULIC Nigeria Limited and recover about N6.5 billion, being accrued revenue from the company over a nine-year period.

Committee Chairman, Solomon Adeola handed down the directive, at the weekend.

The committee wants the IGP and DSS DG to assist in the recovery of 322 hectares multi-billion naira complex and huge debt due in the N40 billion lease fees, following submissions to the panel by the BPE Director-General, Mr. Alex Okoh and the National Council onPrivatisation.

Okoh said the Federal Government revoked AULIC Nigeria Limited’s concession agreement in early September, following inability of the concessionaire to remit about N6.5 billion over the period.

He, however, added that all efforts to eject the concessionaire, including use of the Divisional Police at the complex, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were unsuccessful.

“The concessionaire uses thugs and compromised local police and this has made ejection impossible. We reported the matter to the EFCC and the concessionaire was arrested but later released. So far, he is still operating the complex and collecting revenue, without remitting a dime to the federal government or paying due balance on the lease fees,” Okoh stated.

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He also said after N200 million was paid by the concessionaire in 2007 and another N12 million, it has not remitted any money to the federal government, with N6.5 billion outstanding.

The BPE DG revealed that the concessionaire has bastardised the Trade Fair complex with hospitality and other real estate business without approved plans on waterways springing up all over the edifice.

On his part, Adeola said it was shocking that a corporate body could operate so lawlessly and withhold government’s revenue without any remedy.

“What we need to do at this point is to recover the Trade Fair complex from the concessionaire and subsequently pursue the N6.5 billion unremitted federal government Revenue. Since the local police cannot handle the ejection, with the concessionaire still operating, then, we are inviting the IGP and DG-DSS to address this illegal challenge on government’s authority and proffer a way forward,” said Adeola.

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