Stamp Duty Row: Gudaji Kazaure kicks, as document shows Buhari approved his request

By Danlami Nmodu

EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A Nigerian lawmaker, Hon. Gudaji Kazaure, has kicked against the statement by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, who said that a committee the House of Representatives member belongs was illegal.Shehu also said the committee on Stamp duty has indeed been dissolved.

The Presidential Spokesman in his feisty riposte to Gudaji’s outbursts in a video said, “In response to press enquiries on the issues raised in a viral video by Hon. Gudaji Kazaure, I wish to state as follow:

“In the first instance, the committee on the alleged loss of stamp duty funds he is talking about is an illegal committee, it was dissolved on directive of the President.

Shehu added, “Anyone familiar with our constitution will find it curious that a member of the Parliament is the secretary of an Executive Committee. It suffices to say that the entire networth of the nation’s finacial sector, the assets of the banking sector put together is not worth N50 trillion, not to talk of the kind of money he is talking about.

“The Central Bank assures that there is absolutely no problem, whatsoever, with money from Stamp Duties.

“There is a committee duly set up by the President in June 2020 chaired by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and the secretary is the Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service, FIRS that is currently reconciling the stamp duty accounts. The job is not finished.

“As it is, there is nothing to give credence to wild accusations by made against the administration.

While defending the Buhari administration, Shehu said, “Following speculation and the many allegations, earlier investigations were commissioned by government departments and agencies including the Ministry of Finance, the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation and nothing sensational had been discovered by them. Issues of reconciliation are being handled.

“As for Hon. Gudaji seeing the President, I like to assure that there is nobody that can stop him from seeing the number one citizen. Hon.Gudaji is a friend of the President. He sees him as many times as he wants and he is welcome to come and see him again and again,”Shehu’ s statement concluded.

Gudaji debunks Shehu’s assertions, asks more questions

In his press statement dated 11/12/2022, which has gone viral on social media, Muhammad Gudaji Kazaure , faulted Shehu’s assertions.He equally asked further questions.

Kazaure wrote: “I wish to draw the attention of the general public to a recent statement credited to Mallam Garba Shehu, where he dismissed the committee legitimately set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NIBSS and other financial institutions.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t join any issues with Mallam Shehu but I would like him to answer these pertinent questions: was he there when the committee was set up?why was the Committee asked not to work under minister or SGF?

“For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. President directed the Committee to liaise with DSS to work together and personally said non of his appointees should interfere in our activities.

“If the committee Is illegitimate, why is the CBN Governor collaborating with those around the President to prevent me from gaining access?

“As a Nigerian, no law stops me from carrying out an assignment given to me by the commander in chief of the armed forces.

“Let me also state it clearly that the membership of the committee cuts across all arms of government including myself from the Legislature, the CJN from the judiciary, and finance insisted (sic) from the executive. Other members include the DG SSS, a retired DG of NIA, and retired commissioner of police Muhammad Wakili.

“Finally, I would leave Mallam Shehu with these questions since he questioned the figures we gave earlier:
“The money with CBN I & E window Account stood at $171 billion dollars as at 2020 what is the source of that money? The N23.4 trillion Naira CBN gave as loan to some banks, what is the source of that money? The N13 trillion loan to federal government from FMDQ what is the source of that and finally what is the total equity of CBN and its National budget?

Document shows Buhari approved constitution of Gudaji’s Committee

One document sighted by Newsdiaryonline shows that President Muhammadu Buhari indeed approved Gudaji’s request to set up the Presidential committee.

In the document reviewed by Newsdiaryonline, Gudaji Kazaure, who signed it at the end, had  written what he described as a Memorandum,  addressed to Mr. President. It was dated Monday, 8th August 2022.

It stated in part, “The purpose of this Memorandum is to seek approval of the president & Commander-in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to create and empower a Presidential Committee that will reconcile and recover all unremitted Stamp Duties from banking sector into a single Stamp Duties Central Account (from 2013 to date) as directed by Mr President on 9th October 2017.

“This request is a follow-up to the Memorandum dated 5th October 2017 where Mr.President approved the appointment of (name withheld ) as the sole Stamp Duties Recovery Agent for the Federal Government “FGN” on the National assignment, under….

Item three of the memo listed what Kazaure called situations facing the country, like: increasing debts; Naira losing its value; rising insecurity and labour union agitations.

He continued, “Consequently, the PRESIDENTIAL COMMITEE should be
empowered to investigate and access all records of CBN,NIBSS, banks and all other financial institutions, as well as all the Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies “MDAs” that have been involved on any criminal diversion of Stamp Duties Revenue from Mr.President’s monitoring and control for all constitutional beneficiaries as Ag.SGF directed CBN Governor since 19th October 2017.

“All reconciled Stamp Duties recovered from banks and other financial institutions are to be Transferred into the STAMP DUTIES CENTRAL ACCOUNT in meeting all the constitutional and statutory requirements of Federal Republic of Nigeria(within 3 months) under the direct supervision of Mr. President.

Gudaji’s memo proceeded to list the “selected members of the Presidential Committee” where the lawmaker was named as Secretary.According to the document seen by Newsdiaryonline, it is a 7-man with a chairman.

The terms of reference of the committee includes:

“Investigating all Stamp Duties recovered from banks into many Accounts;

“Transferring all Stamp Duties into STAMP DUTIES CENTRAL ACCOUNT;

“Recovering other Stamp Duties into STAMP DUTIES CENTRAL ACCOUNT;

“Exercising the power of detention on any person, or group of persons, that violate the Presidential Directives on this assignment; ..” among others.

At the end of the 10 items listed as the terms of reference, Hon Muhammad Gudaji Kazaure signed the Memorandum in his long hand, including a date 8/8/2022.
The document sighted by Newsdiaryonline also showed that Buhari appended his signature after writing “Approved” with a date 01-01-22.

It must be noted that Presidential Spokesman Garba Shehu ostensibly did not deny the existence of this committee.However Shehu stated clearly that it was “an illegal committee, it was dissolved on directive of the President.”

The story from all sides leaves several unanswered questions. How the controversy will end remains to be seen.