The Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, has commenced investigation into alleged over N4 trillion revenue leakage in the Nigeria Customs Service between 2006 and 2016.
The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made this known in an interview with newsmen on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that the committee would stop at nothing in recovering the money, which was lost to lapses and various infractions.
He pointed out that preliminary investigation by the committee revealed that the over N4 trillion revenue leakage was due to abuse and non implementation of Form M (Foreign Exchange forms).
He added that wrong classification of cargo under HS Code (Harmonised System Codes), non screening of cargoes coming into Nigeria and lack of adequate ICT infrastructure for revenue collection, were equally responsible.
Uzodinma further explained that cancellation of pre-arrival assessment reports and abandonment of single goods declaration were equally responsible for the leakage.
“The Senate Committee on Customs has condemned the inability of the technical committee on the implementation of comprehensive import supervision scheme to ensure that provisions of Import Control Management Act are followed to the latter.
“The committee frowns at the quantum of revenue losses and it will stop at nothing in ensuring that those involved in this ugly act 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 while 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,’’ he said.
The lawmaker decried that this sharp practice, including round tripping and false declarations, had over time led to increase in the exchange rate.
He said that in most cases, the amount of money spent was not commensurate with the number of goods being imported.
According to him, the committee has started questioning the companies and banks indicted in this act.
“We will not mention the companies involved because we are also very careful of the integrity and public perception of some of these companies, because 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.