Rep. Ihonbvere said he is ready to go the entire length of the law with the Nigerian customs.
The chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee probing the disposal of public property, Rep. Julius Ihonbvere, has threatened to invoke relevant legislative powers to compel the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, to appear before the committee and give details of government property sold by the Service by the Organizations between 2010 and 2022.
This is as it also commenced querying the 2019 sale of 16 vessels for N156.24 million by the Nigeria Ports Authority.
Rep. Ihonbvere during the resumed hearing into the sale of government property by the NCS and NPA between 2010 and 2022 to unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property, non-remittance of revenue realized into Consolidated Revenue Fund’ on Wednesday, issued the threat notice.
Ihonbvere, who is also the Leader of the House, expressed displeasure at what he described as “arrogance of power” and the level of disregard some of the heads of government agencies, particularly the Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority had for the Parliament.
“We have written, we have published the summons in the papers. The summon carried a date when they must appear, and then, they sent me some innocuous letters, signed by one Deputy Comptroller General, Finance and Admin, and Technical Services, who feels too big even to come here in person. This kind of arrogance of power and indiscipline must be wiped out in this system. It cannot continue.
“I think it is irresponsible of the Nigerian customs once again to take the invitation by this House lightly. They think this is a joke. I want to assure them, that I am ready to go the entire length of the law with the Nigerian custom. They must appear before the House.
“And we are empowered by the constitution to make sure that agencies of government funded by the National Assembly do the right thing. And whether the customs like it or not, they must do the right thing.
“But since some agencies particularly the Customs and the NPA have proven recalcitrant, it is now left for this Committee and the House of Representatives to demonstrate to them the powers granted us by the Constitution and we will be taking that next step,” he stated.
Meanwhile, documents before the committee revealed that among the vessels sold by NPA in 2019 were ML Pategi sold at N3.2 million; ML Misau sold at N1.06 million; PB Kabba sold at N5.4 million; SPB 3 sold at N54,000; and PC Shelleng sold at N48,000.
It also showed the sale of exotic vehicles; 45 million other items at the Apapa Port, Lagos in 2022 at N1 each; 10,800,700 other items at its Apapa Dockyard in 2021 also at the rate of N1 each, and a further 20 million scrap metals at the Kirikiri Terminal II, Apapa, at N1 each.
The committee chairman adjourned the hearing to September 25, to enable NPA officials to prepare answers to questions posed to them.
Ihonbvere further directed that a list of properties slated for auctioning and evaluation reports, the names of registered property valuers involved in the transactions, the valuers’ reports and government approval for the sale of the property from the office of the Bureau of Public Procurement also be presented to the committee on the adjourned date.
Other documents to be presented are Certificates of No Objection to the sales by appropriate government agencies and evidence of remittances of accrued revenue into the Federal Government coffers, bidding procedures, newspaper publications, selection, and every other document that could assist the committee in its investigation.