President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday chided the nation’s banks for aiding and abetting corruption through shady deals they engage in with civil servants, including opening multiple and unauthorised accounts for government agencies.
Lawan spoke when the leadership of the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Professionals of Nigeria led by its protem National President, Dr. Victoria Aishatu Enape, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.x
He challenged the anti-graft agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to turn their searchlight on the banks to stop such graft in the private sector.
“It is not only in government agencies that we have this kind of attitude, even in private organizations. 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,” he said.
Lawan recalled that before the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), there were 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.”x
The senate president also recalled the experience of the National Assembly recently to the effect that some revenue-generating agencies of government collect revenues but did not remit all 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 (FIRS) 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 a very reasonable route, as it is consistent with the new age of technology, where devices are replacing humans in social, economic, or business relations. We have been on the path of increasing the use of technology, but we still have to do more,” Lawan said.x
According to him, 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 success.
He warned civil servants who are interested in public funds to divert it that the law would catch up with them.
The institute had earlier inducted Lawan as its patron.
Enape, in her speech, expressed the gratitude of the institute to Lawan for “accepting the path of fighting corruption and cybercrime in Nigeria.”