Reps tackle Customs over decay of seized items, loss of revenue, summon terminal operators

The House of Representatives on Tuesday expressed grave concern over the failure of management of the Nigeria Customs Service towards the sale of seized items, leading to loss of multi-million naira revenue.

Chairman of the Technical Committee of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Leke Abejide, who expressed the concern during an oversight function of the NCS Kano/Jigawa Command, expressed displeasure over the poor performance of terminal managers as well as excess charges imposed by shipping companies.

Hon. Abejide said it was against the interest of the nation to keep seized goods in the store and allow them to expire without being auctioned or donated to the less privileged in the society.

He said the policy of Customs which states that only the Comptroller General of Customs can authorize the auction of seized items was counter-productive as it was robbing the nation of huge revenue.

He 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.

“But because they have decayed, they can only be sold as scraps now 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 losses like this.”

While expressing disappointment over the working environment in the terminals, members of the committee unanimously resolved summoned some of the terminal operators to come to the National Assembly with copies of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Federal Government.

The lawmakers alleged that the terminal operators have failed to put the necessary infrastructure in place several years after taking over the terminal, in contravention of the agreement signed by both parties.

While responding to complaints by concerned stakeholders who accused the shipping companies of extorting 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 with the view to address their concerns.

At the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, who spoke on behalf of the stakeholders, alleged that the cargo section of the airport has practically been abandoned due to unfriendly government policies, adding that some of the cargoes meant for Kano Airport are often taken to Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos by airlines, cleared in Lagos and then transported to Kano by road.

This, according to him, was responsible for the increase in the cost of clearing of cargoes, which are eventually passed on to the final consumers.

In his intervention, Chairman, House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Yuguda Kila, assured that the House will do everything possible to assist authorities of Nigeria Customs Service to achieve the purpose for which they were established.

He assured the personnel that the committee will meet with the management to address the issue of shortage of personnel, especially junior officers who are currently in short supply.

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