COMPREHENSIVE probe which
covers several operational areas of
the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS,
has been launched by the House of
Representatives.
Two separate resolutions were
yesterday approved at plenary in
the motions sponsored by James
Faleke and 14 others and a second
one moved by Jerry Alagbaoso with
10 of his colleagues.
Falekes’s motion is on the ‘need to
investigate the handling of import
duty revenues, waivers granted by
the federal government and bonds
on import duties collected by the
Nigeria Customs Service from 2010
till date’.
Alagbaoso is asking the House “to
investigate the operational activities
of Webb Fontaine Nigeria Limited
in the Nigeria Customs Service
Information and Communication
Technology, ICT, infrastructure
between 2013 and 2017, the
violation of its Automated System
for Customs Data, ASYCUDA,
Time-Line Agreement, Rules
of Engagement and Delay in
Handover of its services to the
Nigeria Customs Service”.
In the motion investigating
infraction in duties, bonds and
waivers granted by the ministry of
finance, the lawmakers are worried
that government has been shortchanged
severally by importers
in clear connivance with customs
officials.
They noted for instance that
government has been under paid
in import duties amounting to
billions of naira because the prearrival
assessment report which is
customarily issued by the service
to asses duties payable on imported
goods are sometimes compromised.
Similarly, it was also alleged that
waivers granted to some companies
in line with government’s policy to
ease and assist businesses are abused
by the beneficiaries who deviate
from what was approved to import
goods not listed on the approval,
further depriving government of
the needed revenues.
In addition to the anomalies,
the House also uncovered several
instances where importers issue
bank or insurance bonds to the
NCS in lieu of duty payments to
enable the importers clear their
goods immediately and thereafter
expected them to redeem the bonds
by paying the appropriate duty rates,
but the reverse is said to be the case
as the bonds are either partially paid
or never redeemed at all.
Viewed against the backdrop,
the members reasoned that it
was compelling to fish out the
perpetrators, either on the customs
or and the importers side, punish
them and block the leakages in order
to shore up government’s revenue.
According to them, there are a
monumental leakages and fraud in
the revenue collection mechanism
which ought to have assisted
government in financing the 2007
budget instead of having recourse
to borrowing, if it was not actually
short-changed.
The lawmakers, however, resolved
and mandated the Committee on
Customs and Excise to determine
the nature and extent of abuse of
customs pre-arrival assessment
reports by importers and officials
of the customs service in order
to recover the revenues due to
the federal government, but were
not paid, investigate the abuse of
import duty waivers granted by the
federal ministry of finance and its
effect on the economy and identify
the companies or individuals that
have refused to redeem the bonds
even after clearing their imports and
report back in 90 days.
Similarly, the House urged the
federal ministry of finance to
look into agreements with an ICT
firm, Webb Fortaine in a motion
sponsored by Jerry Alagbaoso. The
gesture is to hand over the ICT
infrastructure built by the firm
formally to customs as already done
by other service providers which
handled other areas.
Webb Fortaine had designed
and constructed ASYCUDA over a
long period and has since declined
to formerly hand over the project
to customs authorities as others
like COTECNA, SGS, Global
scan which handled other sea and
airports across the country have
long delivered since December 1,
2013.
According to the lawmakers, the
firm is losing grounds in the country
having shown disinterest in the
project. They revealed that the ICT
firm has transferred majority of its
shares to its home country in Hong
Kong and as such there is need to
review every contract detail that
government entered into in order
not to be the loser in the long run.
It directed the ministry to set up
a compliance monitoring team that
will liaise with the Service to test the
ICT infrastructure and ensure that
it conforms to the World Customs
Organisation’s standard.
In addition, the lawmakers also
mandated the Committee on
Customs and Excise to investigate
operational activities in the ICT
infrastructure between 2013 and
2017.
Other areas that the committee will
extend its searchlight, accordingly
are: to ascertain if ASYCUDA’s
time line agreement was violated,
the rules of engagement and delay
in handing over to the Nigeria
Customs Service when other service
providers did so in December, 2013
and report back in six weeks.

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