SAN FRANCISCO, May 05, (THEWILL) – The senate has expanded its panel probing the alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) following an indication of more leakages in the NCS.
To this end, the Senate has upper added its committee of marine transport to join in the efforts of its committee on customs which has been carrying out the probe.
Moving a motion on the floor of the Senate, the Chairman of Senate Customs Committee, Hope Uzodinma, said it has discovered that shipment meant for Nigeria was diverted to Benin Republic.
He said his committee identified that between 2006 and 2017, there was over N30 trillion worth of foreign exchange in form of approved Form M and there is no evidence that such goods came into the country.
“The recent one which is mind-blowing is that shipping companies will load full cargoes worth billions of naira, come into the country and go to bonded terminals, offload and Nigerian government will not collect one kobo,” he said.
“All they do is informal negotiation with the terminal operators, the regulators and then they will offload. This is an international crime.
“We have identified over 228 vessels with their registration numbers, the terminals where they offloaded and we are going through customs database tracking every shipment and vessel that came and offloaded.
“There is another fraud we discovered, which is, all the Asian companies moving all their goods to Cotonou in Benin Republic and these goods are meant for Nigerian market.
“From our investigation, the companies change their documents by mid night as if the shipment is either done from Cote d’ivoire or Cotonou and they move into Nigeria.
“We have gone into this assignment and honestly speaking, we have identified between 2006 and 2017, over N30 trillion worth of foreign exchange in form of approved Form M and there is no evidence that the goods came into the country.
“The commercial banks apply for this foreign exchange and the Central Bank of Nigeria allocates it to them and these monies are transferred to foreign banks and there is no evidence to show that the goods came into the country. So they have been round-tripping with the limited foreign exchange we have in Nigeria.”
On his part, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the country could not afford to be borrowing money when it could recover funds lost through corrupt practices.
He said the senate should be praised for “blowing a whistle” on the NCS.
“The committee on marine transport will join the committee on customs to have a holistic investigation into this matter,” he said.
“I think this is one area the law enforcement agencies must move in quickly to ensure that these monies are recovered.
“We cannot be going to China and all over the world trying to borrow money when we can recover easily all the monies that were lost through some corrupt practices.
“This is one area the senate must be praised for blowing a whistle. This is the real whistle.”
Source: The Will