Nigeria has lost more than one trillion Naira in revenue in the last three years, which is the direct result of import concessions or waivers issued by the Ministry of Finance. Documents confirming this information have been gathered by Sahara Reporters from a source in the Nigeria Customs Service.
On December 19, the House of Representatives Committee on Finance gave the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 50 questions on the state of national economy.
Question Number 15 on the list was “how much exactly has been the amount of money lost in government revenue as a result of import duty waivers in 2011, 2012 and 2013?”
The Committee wanted to know who benefitted, what was imported, and most importantly: why these waivers were granted.
The Committee is now conducting a review of the Okonjo-Iweala’s responses.
In a release issued on January 15, the Minister pointed out that Nigeria gave out N170,727,078,336 billion Naira ($1,067,727,148 billion) in total from the waiver system between 2011 and 2013.
However, the documents obtained by SaharaReporters show that N1,435,980,495,810 trillion ($8,975,998,164 billion) is involved, which is nearly nine times what Okonjo-Iweala admitted to.
According to SaharaReporters, the over one trillion Naira lost in these agreements between the Federal Government and private enterprises favored hundreds of businesses.
Several Dangote Group subsidiaries benefitted to the tune of N26,222,605,864 last year, and were the biggest beneficiaries of the 2013 period.
It follows from the documents that in 2012 the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) benefitted the most, making about N77,979,042,860.
In 2011 first place was held by Sopon Nigeria Ltd, which cost Nigeria N32,773,467,146.
Coscharis Motors Limited, the company which supplied Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah with bulletproof BMW cars, has also benefited in the millions from the waiver scheme since 2011, costing the country N400, 099,570 million in 2011 and N698,427,424 in 2013, SaharaReporters says.
Records indicate the company imported a variety of items, including armored military vehicles. However, it is unclear why, and for whom it may have imported military vehicles, as the FG usually imports such supplies directly.
The list of other significant beneficiaries include:
The Ministry of Environment, Bauchi, which bled national revenue by N155,606,247 for window :air conditioners” in 2013;
The Office of the Executive Governor of Ondo State, for N146,852,981 in 2013 for generator sets;
Creation Commercial Ventures Limited, which imported “cigarettes containing tobacco” and received an exemption costing the country N70,187,029 in 2013;
The Ogun State Accountant General’s Office, which imported “motorized tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” for N52,169,620 in 2013;
One Mr. Ifeanyi Emmanuel Ndianaefo and one Mr. Asimiyu Mohammed Salawudeen, for cast iron table, kitchen, and household articles costing N5,642,567 and N7,158,538 respectively in 2013;
The Rivers State Government, for N2,919,108 for “barbed wire and other fencing material” in 2013;
The Office of the Accountant General in 2013 for “wooden furniture” at a price of N2,098,553; and
One Mr. Ayotunde Aderoju, who imported a variety of “pot scourers”, “polishing pads”, and “gloves” costing Nigeria N2,035,569.
Other state governments and individuals reported to have benefited from similar arrangements incluse the office of the first lady, Patience Jonathan, though her NGO e”African First Ladies for Peace Mission (AFLPM)”, Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bayelsa State Government, the Minister of Police Affairs, the Nigerian Police Force, the Sokoto State Government, the Akwa Ibom State Government, and the Watchtower Society which is assumed to be of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Besides, Moghalu Maduakonam Madubugwu, has also made it to the list as he benefitted from an exemption that cost Nigeria N142, 679,096 in 2012.
To recall, on January 23, 2013, he was arrested at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, en route to Dubai with $200,000.
The exemptions mentioned above and their financial consequences were not disclosed in the reports presented by the Ministry of Finance on their site, or in the Okonjo-Iweala’s answers provided to the House Committee on Finance.