Legal Nigeria

Senate orders Customs to render 3 years account in 48 hours

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.”Source : Sun Newspaper