The Customs Service made the allegation on Tuesday at the National Assembly during a session with the Committee led by Mr. Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi). The meeting was to device means to put an end to the cumbersome transfer processes of the containers at the mother port to other terminals and dry ports across the country.
OrderPaperToday – The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has accused Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government of aiding and abetting the smuggling of vehicles into the country.
This is as the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise called on Nigerians at all levels to stop the evasion of Customs duties and pay up what is due to the agency so as to boost the country’s dwindling economy.
The Committee also urged the NCS to develop an comprehensive application that would allow Nigerians apply for clearance of goods online before arrival to avoid delay and cumbersome processes would lead to demurrage.
Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) of Customs in charge of modernization, Aliyu Galadima Saidu, told the lawmakers that the elite in addition to the MDAs were making the combating of smuggling of vehicles difficult.
According to him, “unfortunately today the big men in Nigeria, I didn’t say National Assembly members, all their escort Hilux vehicles are smuggled vehicles. MDAs patronize smuggled Hilux vehicles. That is why if you go to our system, the number of Hilux importation has dropped but you find hundreds of them in town, mostly used as escorts.
“If you make an amendment to the next Finance Act to make an amendment to the Procurement Act that before a vehicle is taken over, you verify the custom duty it would go a long way. NCS buys Hilux vehicles, but they do not take delivery until when the papers are verified that duty is paid.”
In his reaction, Mr. Abejide urged the Customs to improve on their checks to stop such development.
He said the House was working on the amendment of the Customs Excise Management Act (CEMA) to enable the agency deliver on its mandate, including checking smuggling.
“We too in government need to encourage the executive. Someone asked me why our borders were the way they are. In other countries they are built with walls but ours is just an iron used to block the road. The executive arm of government has to do something about the borders, so they can be tight enough.
“Customs are short of men. During our oversight function on the commands, we were told that they are short of men. Customs is supposed to be 30,000 men, but they are 15,000. They cannot recruit the remaining 50 percent unless they have money. Customs is underfunded. They are taking seven percent of duty on items. This cannot help Customs to recruit. This is one of the things we are doing.”