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.