By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
From an obscure location in the Centre of Excellence is coming the biggest news of the year: 300,000 new jobs, plus annual revenue of over N2 trillion to the Federal Government.
Great things often come in small packages, and for most passersby, 74 Ogunnusi Road (All Seasons Place) at Ojodu Berger, does not command a second look as the building beside it, which is the Lagos Zonal Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), grabs all the attention.
But that is about to change soon as School of Banking Honours (SBH), an innovation enterprise institution (IEI) accredited by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to drive the country’s policy on banking skills and entrepreneurship studies, is set to lead the N50 stamping on all banking transaction receipts in form of electronic money transfers and manual banking tellers with values of N1,000 and above.
With its research since February, 2012, resulting in a Masters Services Agreement (MSA) between SBH and Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) to enforce the Stamp Duty Act 2004 and NIPOST Act 2004, SBH is set to make history with target 300,000 jobs that are expected to rollout with an immediate sign-on of 100,000 young graduates on its “em-Bankers” programme.
Also, ex-bankers that were recently disengaged from the banking industry will be absorbed to lead the re-skilling of young em-Bankers in a “shadow-banking” model across the country.
Several months after the agreement between NIPOST and SBH was signed, the project take-off has been delayed by non-release of a circular by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to back-up its approval letters to SBH, as Master Services Agent of NIPOST, for all banks and other financial institutions to comply with the Stamp Duties Act, which stipulates in Section 89(2) that “every receipt given by any person in acknowledgement of goods purchased or services rendered should be denoted by an adhesive postage stamp worth N50 issued by NIPOST.”
The project consultant and head of School of Banking Honours, Mr. Adetola Adekoya FCA, told The Guardian that while the compliance circular by the CBN to the banks is being awaited, the federation account is deliberately being denied an annual injection of over N2 trillion.
The sad reality of the present situation, according to him, is that a heinous economic crime is being committed against the Nigerian state, as the law has been in force since 2004, and a Federal Treasury circular issued to all Government agencies (including CBN) since 2006, while a preceding circular was also issued by CBN in 2009 for compliance of subsidiaries of banks operating in the capital market.
However, the same CBN that is denying Federal Government its fair revenue on stamp duties in money market and banking transactions, is allowing similar charges to be going into private hands through the back channels, and these run into billions of Naira.
A new twist was added to the project when a firm, Kasmal Financial Services Ltd (owned by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Buruji Kashamu) on October 25, 2013, obtained an Order by ex-parte motion against 22 Nigerian banks for their alleged failure to remit stamp duties by virtue of a further agreement it had with NIPOST in August 2013.
Kasmal obtained the Order through Justice Chukwuejekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, with NIPOST and School of Banking Honours as defendants in the suit. Kasmal’s counsel, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, argued that the banks, having defaulted in paying the duties since 2004, prayed the court to compel the banks to pay a cumulating amount of N70 on all eligible transactions since 2004 till when judgment would be delivered.
The claim by Kasmal was however countered by SBH, who insists that it has the authentic Master Services Agent to NIPOST on the stamp duty project since 14th September, 2012, and any other one is fake.
According to Mr. Adekoya of SBH, he was seeking an audience with President Goodluck Jonathan to draw his attention to the delay from CBN when an Ogun State traditional ruler advised him to seek the support of Prince Buruji Kashamu, also from Ogun State, to facilitate his meeting the President.
“We met with Prince Kashamu and his lawyer, Prince Ajibola Oluyede on Saturday, October 12, 2013 to assist us in alerting President Jonathan on our job-creation effort that was being delayed by CBN. But it was shocking that after our first and only meeting, Kashamu, using Kasmal Financial Services (an unregistered company) went to negotiate a ‘further agreement’ with NIPOST (back-dated two months to August 2013), to duplicate our responsibility of September 14, 2012, on the project, for an illegal commission deductible from Federal Government’s revenue.
“The matter at hand is therefore a criminal case of Prince Kashamu using a fake company on a back-dated agreement, to fake locus standi, in obtaining a Court Order by ex-parte motion against 22 banks,” he stated.
When The Guardian contacted NIPOST office in Abuja, the Postmaster-General, Alhaji Ibrahim Mori Baba, was not available for comment. While the legal brickbats continue, interested parties await how President Jonathan will intervene decisively on this first youth research project.