Senate yesterday disclosed
that goods worth N7trillion
are smuggled into Nigeria
every year, lamenting that
“the annual turnover in the
hands of smugglers is more
than our annual federal
budget.”
This was even as it said
that 282 vessels were missing
at various ports across
the country between 2010
and 2016 and charged the
Nigerian Ports Authority,
NPA, officials to appear
before it on Thursday to
explain how they got missing
and other issues, especially
persistent smuggling through
the nation’s ports.
Chairman, Senate
Committee on Customs,
Excise and Tariffs, Senator
Hope Uzodinma (PDP Imo
West), who gave the hint at
a one-day public hearing on
smuggling in the country
held in Abuja, said “the figure
for goods smuggled through
the Sea Ports is more mind
burgling.”
He added that report has it
that over $15 billion or N4.35
trillion worth of goods are
smuggled into the country
each year through the sea
ports while the story is the
same for our international
airports.
“More shocking is an aspect
of the World Bank report that
states that over 25percent
of the total annual revenue
collected by custom service
is lost to smugglers each year.
If you go by the projected
revenue of the service for this
year which is approximately
N600 billion, it means that
the service will lose about
N200billion in revenue this
year alone.
“You must then agree with
me that smuggling is a serious
menace to the economy and
that all hands must be on deck
to flush it out. As you know
when goods are illegally
brought into the country
through smuggling, it is
not just revenue that is lost,
local industries are affected
adversely and jobs are lost.
“When our markets are
flooded with all manner of
smuggled goods from our
borders, many local industries
that manufacture such goods
are forced to close down,” he
further lamented.
Senator Uzodinma however
said the investigation was
designed by the 8th Senate
in its determination to put an
end to the smuggling malady.
“For the avoidance of doubt,
smuggling is a major threat
to the economy. Those who
may imagine that this is an
exaggeration should do well
to refer to a recent report of
the World Bank on smuggling
in Nigeria.
“The report was
unequivocal in stating that
an astonishing US $5billion
or N1.45trillion worth of
different goods are smuggled
into Nigeria annually through
Benin Republic alone. Yet this
is only 15 percent of the total
volume of smuggled goods
through the Seme border,” he
said.
According to him, no
serious legislative arm of
government would sit supine
while smugglers are allowed
to ravage the economy and
deny the government huge
sums goods are bound to be
adversely affected.
While noting that
smuggling is fast proving
to be the biggest industry
in Nigeria, he disclosed that
“primary information at our
disposal will suggest that in
spite of the Comprehensive
Import Supervision Scheme
(CISS), leakages still abound
in the import export chain.”
Senator Uzodinma listed
mis-invoicing, which is a
form of trade-based money
laundering by international
traders, abuse of free trade
zone polices and temporary
imports permit as major area
of concern
He also said evidence
suggested that unutilised
FORM M is used by operators
for capital flight and money
laundering, all of which
facilitate smuggling.
Declaring the public hearing
open, Senate President,
Bukola Saraki identified
smuggling of goods into
the country as the greatest
threat to the realisation of
economic policies of the
present administration led
by President Muhammadu
Buhari.
Saraki said the Comptroller
General of Customs, Col.
Hameed Ali (rtd) could
continue to wear jeans and
T-shirts once he is able to end
smuggling in the country.
His words: “To the
Comptroller General of
Customs, let me say on a
lighter note, that once you end
smuggling, even if you want
to wear jeans and T-Shirt, I
will move the motion that
you should wear jeans and
T-Shirt.
“But on a serious note, this
issue is very important. Let us
all work towards ending this
menace once and for all.”
Saraki however warned
that “This loss in revenue is
what we can no longer afford
at this crucial time when the
government is doing all it can
to meet up with its budgetary
expenditures.
“Our local producers
have continued to face
daunting obstacles posed by
the activities of smugglers,
despite government’s
restrictions on importations.
Therefore, we must exploit
all avenues and investigate
corrupt practices in various
Ministries, Departments and
Agencies of government. This
occasion presents us with the
opportunity to unravel the
facts before the public with a
view to finding a permanent
solution.”
In his contribution, a
member of the committee,
Senator Nelson Effiong (PDP
Akwa Ibom South), stressed
the need for government
to review the Customs and
Excise Duties Act in order to
reduce or stop smuggling in
the country.
Senator Dino Melaye
(APC Kogi West) alleged
collaboration between officers
and men of the Nigeria
Customs Service, NCS
officers and the smugglers,
and vowed that “it’s not going
to be business as usual with
the determination of the 8th
Senate to tackle the menace.”
He lamented that
smuggling has done serious
damage to the nation’s
economy and charged the
NCS; Nigeria Immigration
Service, NIS; Nigerian Ports
Authority, NPA and other
relevant stakeholders to
unite in fighting the menace
to a stop.
But the Comptroller
General of NCS, Col Hameed
Ali (rtd), who spoke through
his deputy in-charge of
operations, Nuhu Abba
Ibrahim, accused some
highly placed individuals
and institutions of
intervening in the operations
of the Service, citing example
of the raid on a warehouse in
Idiroko, Ogun State which
was stopped recently.
He however vowed that
the Customs would not
relent in discharging its
responsibilities despite the
challenges being faced from
time to time.


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