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Gbajabiamila meets Buhari over cash withdrawal limit, trapped ‘N89trn’ stamp duty

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, discussing the cash withdrawal limits recently…

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, discussing the cash withdrawal limits recently introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was supposed to appear before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, did not honour the invitation, saying he was out of the country.

They also discussed issues related to the 2023 general elections and the alleged N89trn stamp duty controversy at the meeting held at the State House, Abuja.

“There were issues around cashless policy, issues around elections and violence that seem to be erupting here and there are a couple of other very important matters as well,” Gbajabiamila told journalists after the meeting.

The Speaker said the National Assembly has no connection with the task of being pursued by a member of the lower chamber and the Secretary of the dissolved Presidential Committee on Reconciliation and Recovery of Stamp Duties Revenue, Muhammadu Gudaji Kazaure.

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Kazaure had said President Buhari secretly constituted the committee to recover the purportedly trapped N89 trillion stamp duties.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, had said last week Tuesday that the claims of a missing N89 trillion from stamp duty appeared false and a figment of their malicious imaginations after President Buhari had rescinded the approval he gave via the late Abba Kyari’s letter of March 28 and asked that the committee be stopped from operating under the seal of his office long before he stirred up the latest controversy.

“The same set of consultants claimed in 2016 there was N20 trillion to be collected. It was found to be false. The entire banking sector deposit is not even up to half of N89 trillion.

“Indeed, if the Federal Government can find N89 trillion Naira, it can pay off all its debt, both foreign and local currency and all state government debts and still have over N10 trillion left.

“So, the claim by these so-called consultants and the disbanded committee is totally ridiculous and a complete mockery,” he also said.

He had added that a duly authorized committee under the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) was working to reconcile, recover and transfer all Stamp Duties into Stamp Duties Central Account.

Asked if he discussed the Kazaure issue as a member of the House of Representatives, the Speaker said: “Kazaure, from my understanding, he is working with whoever he is working with. If it necessitates the house coming in, we will come in. If he has an official function, he should go ahead and do his work. But this has nothing to do with National Assembly. Not that I know of.

“It was not based on a resolution of the National Assembly. It was not based on a motion from the National Assembly, I believe he said he had the executive authority to do what he’s doing. If that’d be the case, I mean, then it’s got nothing to do with the National Assembly.”

Asked whether the house would call him to order since he was not representing them, he said: “The house can only call Kazaure to order to the extent that it is impugning on the integrity of the house or individuals or leadership of the House that have nothing to do with what heis doing.

“It is important to separate the two, if he has a mandate to do something, that’s on him. When it came up, we had asked members of the executive, they said they were not aware of any mandate or such mandate has been withdrawn. I don’t want to get into it. I don’t want to get into it except to the extent that he tries to impugn on the integrity of members of the House. And that’s a no no, we have nothing to do with this.”

On what the house would do between now and next year, Gbajabiamila said the 2023 budget would be passed on Thursday.

He said the lower chamber of National Assembly would use 10 days to do “house cleaning matters” and attend emergency issues before going back for campaigns and elections.

On his regular routine meeting with the President which he described as “fruitful”, Gbajabiamila said it was meant to get his perspectives on some state matters of national interest and shared the position of National Assembly with him.

He said the discussion focused on cashless policy, elections and related violence, adding that the opportunity was used to wish the President happy birthday and offer prayers for longer life and Allah’s continued protection and blessings on his life.