Customs And Smugglers Clash Causes Shootout In Ogun State

Some officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Ogun State Command, on Tuesday, engaged in a gun battle with smugglers along Ota-Idiroko road.

A witness said crisis erupted when some customs officials tried to stop a well-known smuggler identified as Sherif. The officials shot and killed Sherif at Ola junction, Onibuku along Ota-Idiroko road, during the shootout, the witness said.

Sherif and his fellow smugglers were allegedly smuggling rice, turkey and other items from the Benin Republic through the border when they were accosted.

The witness, a resident of the area, said Sherif and his gang are known to always bribe compromised customs officials to ensure easy smuggling until Tuesday’s action.

Following the killing of Sherif, there was‎ a mob action as some of the protesters went on a rampage, setting the Customs Hilux van and office along Idi-Iroko road ablaze.

The mob also allegedly wounded some Customs officers, who were shielded by combined security officials including the police and the Nigerian Navy.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Customs in Ogun, Abdullahi Maiwada, said the violence started when Customs officials intercepted the smugglers with their products. He said the smugglers attacked the officials before the latter fought back.

“We intercepted a Mazda vehicle with registration number KTU 504 AN carrying 45 bags of smuggled rice, and also a Passat vehicle with 28 cartons of smuggled turkey,” he said.

“But in a reprisal attack, the smugglers mobilised themselves and destroyed our official vehicle which was set ablaze, and also destroyed personal vehicles of our men. They also destroyed the command post at Atan junction.”

The spokesperson said he could not confirm any death and that investigation was still ongoing.

N30 Trillion Revenue Loss: Senate Commences Customs’ Probe

The Senate, yesterday 4th has given the go-ahead to its Customs and Excise committee, headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma, to kickstart a probe into the loss of  N30 trillion revenue by the Nigerian Customs Service and some maritime agencies.

Senator Uzodinma, who moved the motion at the Senate plenary, said he was seeking the permission of the upper chamber to allow the committee on maritime to also join the probe. He said his committee had conducted some investigations which, so far, had revealed that Nigeria was bleeding through activities of the Customs and the maritime agencies.

“We have started this assignment and, honestly speaking, we have identified that between 2006 and 2017, over N30 trillion worth of foreign exchange in form of approved ‘Form M’ made for imports and for which there is no evidence that the goods came into this country.

“Rather, what the commercial banks do is to apply for foreign exchange and the Central Bank of Nigeria approves it. The money is transferred to foreign banks but there are no documents that the goods come in. There has been round tripping with the limited foreign exchange that we have in Nigeria.

“The recent one, which is mind-blowing, was that shipping companies now load cargoes worth billions of naira, come into the country, go to warehouse terminals and offload, but Nigerian government will not collect one kobo. All they do is informal negotiations with the terminal operators and regulators and they will offload.

“This is an international crime. We have identified over 228 vessels with their destination numbers and terminals where they offloaded. We have gone through Customs’ ASCUDA database, tracking every shipment and every vessel that came and offloaded,” he said.

 

Customs’ Vehicles Set Ablaze By Angry Car Dealers In Kaduna

Following a clash between officials of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and car dealers in Kaduna, about two NCS vehicles were set ablaze.

It was reported that the officials had gone to a car mart on Rabah Road, Kaduna North Local Government Area, at about 3p.m., to impound vehicles without import duties from car dealers, when the clash occurred. However, a swift intervention by the Kaduna State security outfit, code-named Operation Yaki, saved the situation from degenerating further. An eyewitness explained that the officials had gone to a car dealer’s showroom, identified six luxury cars that they said have no valid papers and towed four of them away. However, before they came back for the other two, the dealers had whisked them out of the

An eyewitness explained that the officials had gone to a car dealer’s showroom, identified six luxury cars that they said have no valid papers and towed four of them away. However, before they came back for the other two, the dealers had whisked them out of the mart and mobilised their members to confront the officers.

According to the witness, “the Customs officials had gone to Issa Kaita Road, to impound vehicles that have no import duties from a showroom. They succeeded in impounding six and took two away. “But when they came back for the remaining two, the car dealers mobilised and went after them. Luck ran against the Customs driver as the dealers caught up with him, dragged him down and set the patrol vehicle on fire.”

N4trn Revenue Leakage: Senate to Probe Customs

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.

NAN

Why Customs CG Should Appear in Uniform- Senator Adeola

Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) has said that the Senate Resolution summoning the Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller General Hameed Ali to appear in Custom Service uniform and rank to explain his refusal to suspend the policy on duty on vehicles and other recent acts of the Customs was to protect the organizational integrity and discipline in the institution of the Customs Service as well as protect the interest of the people.

Responding to reports of the Customs boss promise of appearing before the Senate in plenary this week in mufti as usual since his appointment as CG, Senator Adeola said it is regrettable that as a retired army colonel who should know the importance of uniforms, the Custom boss want to demean and undermine the symbolic importance of uniforms, discipline as well as the authority it confers on the agency in its operation as a lawful body.

In a statement signed by Chief Kayode Odunaro, the Media Adviser to Senator Adeola, “Military and paramilitary uniforms inclusive of ranks are part of the symbol of legitimate authority conferred on the wearer to carry out certain duties on behalf of the government. Except in covert operations, an officer in these organizations operating without uniform could be taken to be performing illegal duty or worse, be taken as not representing the institution at all. And as stated on the floor of the Senate in plenary, the Comptroller General is rank that can only be worm on uniform and not on mufti” the senator stated.

Senator Adeola said there is concern among officers and men of the Customs Service on the appointment of ‘outsider’ to head the agency as it is a morale killer, career progression inhibitor as well as damaging to the organizational growth of the service stressing that there may be need to amend the Nigerian Customs Act to restrict appointment of CG to career officers as is done in the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigrations and the Nigerian Prisons Service.

“The APC led Government of President Mohamadu Buhari was elected on the promise of change, adherence to rule of law and renunciation of impunity in any forms. The story we hear daily is the arrogance and high handedness of the CG and name dropping of the President. We had it on good authority of his reluctance to be answerable to the Minister of Finance as stipulated in laws of the land. We that were elected cannot look the other way while the people we represents are subjected to avoidable hardship orchestrated by an unelected appointee in a bid to cure the inefficiencies of the agency he leads. We are in a democracy” Senator Adeola stated.

The senator representing the largest senatorial district in Nigeria in terms of population said the Senate is in support of President Buhari’s anti corruption drive as well as effort to increase revenue to get the nation out of recession adding that no one should use personal idiosyncrasies to drive public policy as it appears is the case with the current leadership of the Customs.

“We respect the right our President to appoint those he believes can do the job among the teaming millions of Nigerians but in recent times the operations of the Nigerian Customs with midnight “break in” and impoundments, killings leading to protests and demonstration by the citizenry requires that the National Assembly seeks clarifications from the leadership of Customs. We cannot allow the return of impunity and disregards of due process and rule of law. If retired Colonel Ali cannot respect the Custom service or is ashame of wearing its uniform and rank of his position while appearing before peoples’ representatives, then he should honourably resign. We have had a Major General Haladu Hanniya as head of FRSC wearing the agency’s uniform as well as a Major Danjuma Maigari wearing even the KAI uniform in Lagos State all in a bid to promote agencies they lead. This is not the Abacha military era when a Sole Administrator was appointed to head the Nigerian Customs.” Senator Adeola stated.