Customs boss ignored Senate hearing

The Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) yesterday, December 5 shunned the Nigerian Senate public hearing on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act Bill, 2016. The public hearing was informed by the Senate’s move to repeal and re-enact the 58-year old law, in order to enhance NCS’s efficiency in the 21st Century.

National Daily gathered that the Customs DG apart from staying away from the event, did not send any representative to the hearing. However, in his opening remark, Chairman of the Committee on Customs and Excise, Hope Uzodinma, said the National Assembly would amend the NCS’s Act to ensure the evolvement “of an effective, efficient and result-oriented department or agency.”

On his part, Senate President, Bukola Saraki said the move to repeal the age-long bill was borne out of Senate’s desire to reposition the NCS with a view to ensuring that it “plays the pivotal role it is expected to play as a major funder of the federal budget.” He continued: “The bill became necessary in view of the very critical role that the Customs play in the economic and security life of our country.”

“Customs remains one of the most important sources of government revenue. With government revenues dwindling rapidly at a time we have so much to do, this has further made the need for us to block all leakages and possible inefficiency points in our revenue profile an urgent national duty.

“When the eighth Senate came on board, we promised that we would introduce new laws to improve revenue generation, curb corruption, improve accountability and governance. This bill is one of those bills, which, even our private sector has identified as critically important to doing business and relates significantly to the cost of doing business in general.

“This bill clearly represents a clear message from the Senate that we are ready to empower our revenue agencies to perform their duty to ensure that our country’s economy continues to competitively perform even in the face of dwindling oil market prospects.

Saraki noted that the red chamber is determined to rejig the Customs laws in order to achieve a diversified Nigerian economy with efficient government support. Meanwhile, the NCS has placed a ban on the importation of vehicles through land borders. In a statement signed by Wale Adeniyi, public relation officer of the NCS, the ban takes effect from January 1, 2017.

In a related development, the Tin-Can Island command of the NCS has intercepted a 20ft container of “ready to eat Nigerian foods”. The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bashar Yusuf, revealed that ready-to-eat Nigerian foods like Egusi soup, jollof rice, ogbono and yam porridge being imported from India into Nigeria, were intercepted by his men.