Senate orders Customs to render 3 years account in 48 hours

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By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi

Less than 24 hours after Finance Minister, Kemi
Adeosun, revealed how revenue-generating
agencies engage in “high level corruption”
especially the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS),
which she described as “cohesive crooks hard to
break,” Senate has commenced investigation into
its activities.

The Senate Committee on Customs and Excise also
dropped hints that after the Customs’ probe, it
would beam its searchlight on the ports.
Nigeria’s Upper Legislative Chamber has given
Customs 48 hours to provide records of waivers
since 2013 and also details of how it handles
seized cigarettes and alcohol, record of auctioned
overtime and seized cargoes.
On Tuesday, the minister said revenue-generating
agencies are frustrating government with “non-
remittances” which she described as a big issue.”
Regardless, Senate, through its Committee on
Customs and Excise, chaired by Hope Uzodinma,
has launched a comprehensive probe into
Customs’ activities with the hope of blocking
revenue leakages and enhance generation.
Specifically, the committee has asked the NCS
Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), to
submit the records of all waivers granted in the
last three years, value of the waivers, detailed
record of sugar levy and other details of revenue
accrual.
The committee gave the Service till October 28 to
submit the documents and answer all the queries.
It also sought to know how the seven per cent
Negotiable Duty Credit was managed and how the
Service handled seized cargoes and overtime
cargoes.
Uzodinma expressed displeasure at the inability of
the Service to collect duty from oil companies,
promising that a legislation to review the law
would be initiated.
Uzodimma, during an oversight visit to the NCS
headquarters in Abuja, said the Service should
generate enough revenue to fund the nation’s
budget.
He expressed displeasure at a report by the
Ministry of Finance, which indicated that the NCS
had generated less than N400 billion so far in
2016.
The committee chairman explained the rationale for
the probe.
“We are looking into the operations of Customs
Service; looking at the areas of revenue generation
and possible leakages with a view to finding
solutions.
“We have done detailed work and we have
established contacts with all commands under the
service.
“All we are interested in is to evolve a robust
framework that will help the NCS earn more
revenue.
“We want to create a situation where the NCS will
be able to fetch the country the kind of revenue we
are looking for from non-oil sector,’’ he said.
Commenting on the revelation that the Service
could not access some oil companies for payment
of levies, Uzodinma said, it was part of the
impediments that require enabling laws.
In his remarks, Ali, assured that the Service would
fully co-operate with the committee, directing his
officials to provide the panel with all the
information and documents it required.
On how revenue generating agencies are
frustrating the government, Adeosun on Tuesday,
told the Senator John Owan Enoh-led Finance
Committee that: “non-remittances by the revenue-
generating agencies is a big issue. We have done
a lot of work on it. We are auditing about 31 of the
agencies and what we found was very shocking, it
was very, very shocking. That is the only way to
describe it.”
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