End Of The Road!!! Obasanjo, Jonathan, Others, Implicated As Angry Saraki Blows Hot, Alerts DSS For Major Arrests

By Post Nigeria March 27, 2017 09:48

End Of The Road!!! Obasanjo, Jonathan, Others, Implicated As Angry Saraki Blows Hot, Alerts DSS For Major Arrests

The Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, has revealed its plans to commence investigations into how over N4 trillion was lost, due to revenue leakage in the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.

The period under review, will cover between 2006 and 2016, meaning that, former Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan’s tenures will be probed.

The Committee has however, condemned the inability of the Technical Committee on the Implementation of Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, to ensure that the provisions of the Act are followed to the latter.

Its Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja, said the Committee would stop at nothing in recovering the money, which was lost due to lapses and various infractions.

According to him, preliminary investigations by the Committee, revealed that the N4 trillion leakages were as a result of various forms of infractions, including abuse and non-implementation of Foreign Exchange Forms‎.

He added, that other factors responsible for the leakages were wrong classification of cargo under Harmonised System Codes, non-screening of cargoes coming into Nigeria, and lack of adequate ICT infrastructure for revenue collection, stressing that cancellation of pre-arrival assessment reports, abandonment of single goods declaration, were equally responsible for the leakages.

Uzodinma said: “The Committee frowns at the quantum of revenue losses, and it will stop at nothing in ensuring that those involved in this ugly act, would return all recoverable monies with them.

“The Committee also frowns at the level of collusion and corruption within the Customs Service. At the end of our current investigation, all these will become a thing of the past and Customs revenue will be enhanced, and non-oil revenue will be improved upon.

“What we are investigating is not money spent. It is the leakages. For instance, I am supposed to pay XYZ amount of duty, I will abandon the documentation, go get fake documents, collude with customs, pay maybe a fraction of it and carry my goods. With that, the true import circle is not closed.

“Another instance is that assessment is abandoned, or I fill the form M for example, with a pro-forma invoice, apply for foreign exchange in Central Bank, XYZ amount of money is allocated to me, money moves in, but no goods shipped. I will then go get fake documents, collude with customs, and then retire the allocation.”

The Lawmaker, further decried that the sharp practice, which includes round tripping and false declarations, had over time led to increase in the exchange rate.

He stressed that in most cases, the amount of money spent was not commensurate with the number of goods being imported, adding that, the Committee had started investigating the activities of companies and banks indicted in the matter.

“We will not mention the companies involved, because we are also very careful of the integrity and public perception of some of these companies, being that some of them are in the Stock Market. We will be diplomatic in carrying out this investigation.

“This is to the extent that little or no damage will be done to the integrity and image of such companies, provided that government revenues in their hands will be recovered,” he said.

On the retrospective policy on payment of customs duties on old vehicles, the Lawmaker expressed dissatisfaction that the service was over stepping its bounds, by making policies rather than implementing them.

According to him, the power to make policies for the service was vested in the Ministry of Finance, adding that, having gone through the legislation and books available to my office as it has to do with the administration of the Customs Service, it only implements policies made by the Ministry of Finance.

“It sounds very strange to hear that Customs gets up and says they are making a policy. That is what I am yet to understand, and there is no way to fathom that before the law.

“The referral is already before us. I was waiting for him to appear before the Senate before we commence a full blown investigation into some of those issues that have been referred to us.

“Concerning the suspended policy on payment of customs duties on old vehicles, the Committee will continue to interface with the Service, to ensure that the policy is cancelled, not suspended.

“The whole idea is about governance, and governance is about the people, and nobody is licensed or entitled to talk about the people more than the elected representatives. In my view, there is no hullaballoo. We will discuss with them, and wise reasoning will prevail,’’ he said.