ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, Abuja
Chairman, Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff; and Marine Transport, Senator Hope Uzodinma, gave reason why the committee decided to meet some companies involved in N30 trillion revenue leakages behind closed-doors, saying some of the affected companies demanded for secrete meeting in order to protect their business secrete.
Uzodinma, who spoke with journalists after the meeting with the affected CEOs, added that some of the companies have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the committee on its investigation.
He said it was necessary to meet those companies behind closed door because some of the affected companies sought the permission of the Panel to hold the meeting closed in order to protect their trade secrets.
In his words,” 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 have expressed their willingness to support our investigation because the process of the investigation may require them revealing some of their trade secrets.
“In other not to breach the secrecy that has to do with their business modules, we agreed to their terms because our interest is to achieve result.
“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.
“So, 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.
“What we are doing and showing by this investigation is that the country can be better and that we can move from where we are now to where we 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 things we will do or say that will mar the success of the investigation. We are not shrouding anything in secret.
“The public is also interested in this investigation and you know the stock exchange an important platform for trade in Nigeria. There is a signal we will get to the market that will destroy the image and integrity of these companies
“We have not arrived at any conclusion because the investigation is still on. The final day we will do a full blown press briefing so that Nigeria will know the outcome of our exercise.”
Companies present in the closed door meeting were Dana Group, China Export ,Emel Group, Halliburton ,Bhojson Plc ,Bharat Ventures Ltd; Bua International Ltd, Friesland Campina, Boulos Group , CFAO Group, and British American Tobacco Company.
It would be recalled that last week the Committee directed Nigerian Police to go after 30 Chief Executive Officers who failed to appear before the committee.
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