By Ahuraka Isah and Solomon Ayado,
The Senate said yesterday that it restricted the investigative hearing into how over 60 companies swindled the country with over N30 trillion revenue through non-remittances of moneys payable to the federation account to only the firms in order to avoid disclosing their trade secrets.
The Senate also assured Nigerians that the probe was aimed at recovering revenues lost by the government.
The Red Chamber was reacting to questions as to why the public investigative hearing is being shrouded in secrecy, thereby giving credence to speculation that the probe itself is fraught with negotiations between the investigation team and chief executive officers of the companies.
Senate committee chairman on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Hope Uzodima, said it was not true that the probe into the N30trillion scam is shrouded in secrecy because the press is constantly briefed at every stage of the investigation.
“In order not to breach the secrecy that has to do with their business modules, we agreed to their terms because our interest is to achieve results”, Uzodima added.
Continuing, Uzodima said: “It became very necessary for us to speak to you this afternoon because as you must have observed, we now decided to take the companies one after the other rather than the general group thing.
“The reason is that some of the companies approached the committee and expressed their willingness to support our investigation because the process of the investigation may require them revealing some of their trade secrets. Some of the companies that appeared before us today have also committed to our success by way of making some admissions here and there.
“We don’t want to create unnecessary panic in the market. Some of the companies are public quoted companies. So, our interest is to confront them with the infractions we identified that their companies are involved in and to resolve issues going forward to ensure government collects necessary revenues that have not been collected before this time and then block the areas of leakages in such a manner that our national interest will be protected.
“If there is anybody who is still in doubt whether there are recoverable revenues of government in the hands of these companies, by the admission of some of them, it means that the person should better wake up.
“We call on all Nigerians to support the Senate. We are all very serious men and women- professionals in different fields of endeavor- and when we have decided to come here to serve the country, we mean every word of it”.
Uzodima further oserved that what the Senate is doing by the investigation is to ensure that the country is better and that Nigerians can move from where they are now to where they expect the country to be.
“The media should support the Senate. This job seems to be a thankless one but for the interest of our country, it has become necessary that we make the sacrifice and that is what we are doing.
“Initially some of these agencies of government and some private companies were reluctant in attending or honouring Senate invitation. With the threat and the support of the Police, they have all responded. We have seen 11 of them today and we will continue until we have exhausted all the companies.
“This investigation is a mandate from plenary and is ongoing but we will not disclose everything now because there are things we will do or say that will mar the success of the investigation. We are not shrouding anything in secret” he added, stressing that the investigation is not a charade and should not be seen as such.