Reps Call For Quick Sales Of Impounded Goods
The Federal House of Representatives has called for quick sales of every contraband goods seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The lawmakers said the attitude of the management of Customs towards the sale of seized items was worrisome as it was depriving the country of huge revenue.
This was made known when the Technical Committee of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, in its oversight function, paid inspection visit on the Kano/Jigawa Command of Customs in Kano city yesterday.
The committee expressed disappointment over the poor performance of terminal managers as well as excess charges imposed on importers by shipping firms.
It also disclosed it has uncovered many illegal and unauthorised agencies at terminals, saying they are not in the interest of government.
“For instance, no one knows the number of agencies at the Apapa, Lagos Terminal, and they keep coming increasingly daily,” one of the lawmakers said.
During their interaction with Customs officials at the Kano command, Hon. Kabiru Ahmadu, who is representing Gusau/Tsafe federal constituency from Zamfara State, said the policy of Customs which states that only the Comptroller-General of Customs can authorise the auction of seized items must be reversed.
He explained that because of the policy, seized contraband goods are kept for too long that they become expired or decayed, a situation he said, was counter productive as it was robbing the nation of huge revenues.
“We need to change some of our ways. We cannot continue to be wasting billions of naira worth goods. We have to amend some Customs policies.
“The country is sitting on a time bomb; the economy is shrinking; the youth out there are largely unemployed and they are angry. And the economy of this nation is driven much by what Customs generate. Let us do what is of help in moving this country forward,” Ahmadu said.
Chairman of the Technical Committee on Customs, Hon Leke Abejide, who led his members to Kano Customs, also said it was against the interest of the nation to keep seized goods in stores and allow them expire without being auctioned or given out to the needy.
Abejide said: “You have seen for yourself items seized by the Customs that are wasting away. If you sell some of these vehicles at the time they were seized, they would have been sold for millions of naira.
“Now that they have decayed, they can only be sold as scraps and that is not good enough. We are going to take this up with the management of Customs so that we don’t incur huge loses like these again,” he said.
Responding, Comptroller in charge of Kano/Jigawa zone, Suleiman Pai Umar, said he will write and forward the lawmakers’ request of quick sales of seized goods to the Customs headquarters for consideration.
The committee expressed disappointment over the working environment in the terminals, saying it will summon the terminal operators to come to the National Assembly with copies of the memorandum of understanding they signed with the government, adding that several years after they were given the terminals to run, they are yet to out in place the needed facilities to operate.
Customs also accused the Terminal managers of causing artificial problems for its officers and refusing to position containers for proper examination by Customs officials.
Responding to complaints by stakeholders that shipping companies were extorting them by charging them N30,000 per day for keeping their containers, Hon Abejide said the House Committee will interface with the shipping companies and other stakeholders to ensure that Nigerians are not unduely extorted.
At the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, the Committee was informed by the stakeholders that the cargo section of the airport has practically been abandoned due to government policies.
Speaking on behalf of the stakeholders, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, said cargoes meant for Kano are often taken to Lagos by airlines, cleared in Lagos and then transported to Kano by road, adding that this has increased the cost of clearing such cargoes before they are passed on to the consumers.
Chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Yuguda Hassan Kila, said the House will do everything possible to assist Customs achieve the purpose for which it was established.
He also promised that the Committee will meet with the management to address the issue of shortage of Customs personnel, especially junior officers who are currently in short supply.