The Federal Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and other agencies of the Federal Government yesterday voiced their support for the House of Representatives inquiry into the unclaimed funds in commercial banks as well as on unremitted funds. funds collected on behalf of federal government agencies by banks.

The legislators, meeting in plenary session on January 26, had set up an ad hoc committee, chaired by the Hon. Ditto Unyime, to look into the problem posed by financial experts, it took trillions of naira.

Supporting the hearing, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ms. Zainab Ahmed, said the CBN issued in October 2015, provides guidelines which oblige any bank to notify the federal government of the existence such funds belonging to this.

Represented by the director general of the budget office, Ben Akabueze, the minister urged the CBN to ensure that it enforces its own guidelines.

Ahmed said: “From the committee chairman’s opening remarks, it will appear that this is focused on finding out federal government balances that may still be hanging in one of the commercial banks. I believe that at the In recent years there have been government circulars seeking to enforce this.

“Because otherwise when we received this invitation which talked about unclaimed funds in Nigerian Commercial Banks, my initial reading is basically that these are inactive accounts, dormant accounts because the current regulations guiding the management of these issued by the CBN, October 2015, provides guidelines for the management of inactive accounts, dormant accounts and unclaimed funds.

“These guidelines require any bank to inform the federal government of the existence of such funds belonging to them, if they had done so, I am sure these funds will not be there.

“I trust that, without prejudice to the work of this committee, the CBN will also do the work of enforcing its own guidelines. As the work of the committee progresses, any other specific information required from us as a department , we will be able to provide .”

For its part, the CBN, represented by its Acting Director, Banking Supervision, Okafor Maxwell, assured that the apex bank will comply fully to ensure that the investigation yields the necessary results.

He said: “We are not very clear on the requirements of the committee, but the chairman’s speech has made many things very clear. We want to assure that the CBN will cooperate fully to ensure that this work is done. We are going to help the committee follow through with whatever is necessary to make sure this work is done.”

In addition, Federation Accountant General’s Office representative Sylva Okorieaboh agreed that a substantial amount of federal government funds may still be in commercial banks despite the August 7, 2015 presidential directive and circulars and notices. efforts to constrain commercial banks. banks to comply with these guidelines.

Okorieaboh, who is the director, coordinator of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), added that if a bank or MDA does not do what it is supposed to do, it is clearly an offense and the job of the lawmakers will help sort out anything like that.

He said: “The letter we received was not detailed enough to prepare us for today’s session, but we are aware that there is a good chance that a significant amount of government funds federal government is still held by commercial banks despite the presidential directive of August 7, 2015. , as well as the circulars and the efforts made to compel commercial banks to comply with these directives.

“On December 14, 2021, the Minister of Finance inaugurated new structures for the implementation of the TSA and she alluded to the fact that it is likely that a substantial amount of federal government funds are still with commercial banks. and ordered the banks to return these funds or they will be reported to anti-corruption agencies.”

In his presentation, the Executive Director of Finance and Administration of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Chudi Ofordile, lending his support to the work of lawmakers, noted that some banks were not complying yet to the government directive that all funds should be transferred to the TSA.

He expressed optimism that the investigation would help agencies recover some of their funds from those who were unable to identify them, adding that they had clear evidence of where where these funds were and who was being held.

Earlier in his remarks, the chair of the committee, the Hon. Unyime said the mission was huge, crucial and sensitive given the country’s economic situation.

He noted that 45 million bank accounts had not been linked to the Bank Verification Number (BVN), hence the resolutions stipulating that commercial banks would submit a document that would help lawmakers recover unclaimed funds.

While asking all stakeholders to cooperate, he warned that commercial banks and other agencies that held funds belonging to the federal government and were unwilling to repay would be suspended from raising funds for the government.

Declaring the hearing open, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila expressed his optimism that the transfer would improve the system in terms of added value.

Gbajabiamila who was represented by the Vice President, Hon. Idris Wase said that if it was true that 1.2 trillion naira was not flowing into the consolidated revenue account, committee members should be careful to expose the corruption aspect of it and come up with interventions that would improve and mitigate the situation.