The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Francis Fadahunsi has raised an alarm that about 78 containers suspected to be carrying used clothings from China, tramadol, ammunition and other banned items have been intercepted by the Committee.
Fadahunsi told journalists in Lagos that the 78 containers were imported through Onne port and that corrupt customs task force allegedly set up by the Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali was making attempts to escorts the containers out of the port.
He said the committee, based on intelligence had moved in and impounded the containers, even as he assured that the containers would be examined in the presence of the public to show that Nigeria economy losing about N6.5tn yearly because of the alleged corrupt practices in the Nigeria Customs Service.
Fadahunsi, who represents Osun East in the Senate alleged that some of the 78 containers brought in from China were not being carefully examined despite the threat of coronavirus. He said some of the containers were loaded with, used clothes from Chinna, a Coronavirus infested country.
Fadahunsi said corrupt customs officers were also colluding with clearing agents to under-declare the value of imported goods in order to pay lesser duties.
Fadahunsi said, “Instead of getting about 25 or 30 per cent, the Federal Government is getting just five per cent because of some greedy officers there. Nigeria can get between N7tn and N8tn. The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali, should be blamed. He is the head and he has sacked the almost 50,000 workers, having about 15,600. Despite this, corruption has continued.
“They said the revenue generated by the service has now hit N1.5tn but I disagree with them. They rake in five per cent duties to the government’s purse. The remaining is shared. They should be collecting between 25 per cent or 30 per cent. Can you see the huge revenue loss now? Government is not supposed to be borrowing money if the corruption in the Customs has been successfully tackled.
“Government should get between N7tn and N8tn from Customs and now that their salaries have been increased, there should be no reason to steal again. But stealing is ongoing there. “The task force which Ali set up are the ones escorting smuggled items into the country. There are some containers which the Senate Committee on Customs intercepted at Onne Port. They are 78 containers suspected to be carrying tramadol, okirika and other banned items. We have impounded the containers and we want to open them in the presence of the public to show that our economy is bleeding.
“The Customs said it was not our duty when we demanded that the containers be opened. We said let all the security agencies be there and let journalists be present while opening the containers. We are still arguing on this. Ali should let us open the containers to show to the whole world that he is not corrupt.”