The House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise is working on the repeal of some provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act, to reduce the cumbersome cargo clearance process by the Nigeria Customs Service.
This is just as the Nigeria Customs Service accused some Nigerian elites and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government of patronising smuggled vehicles.
Speaking on Tuesday at the interactive session of the House Committee on Customs and Excise and the Nigeria Customs Service, Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide said lawmakers were proposing three stages for the transfer of containers which include Controller, Deputy Controller revenue and Exit.
He said: “One of the reasons we are doing this interactive session is because we are already working on the Customs and Excise Management Act. We want to have an agreement with Customs on common ground, like all these transfer processes, it is going to be there.
“We don’t want to do it alone, we want to do it with them (Customs). We should receive it from this Committee by this week. So, when the Act comes we are going to sit down on it and look at it and see how we can help them. We are working on the Act.
“Customs are short of men. We went out and all the complaints when we went to the command is that they are short of men. Customs is supposed to be 30, 000 men, but they are 15, 000. They cannot recruit the remaining 50 percent unless they have money. Customs is underfunded. They are taking seven percent of duty on items. This cannot help Customs to recruit. This is one of the things we are doing.”
On the issue of elites and MDAs patronising smuggled vehicles, Abejide urged the executive arm of government to do something about the borders to make them very tight.
He also appealed to the Service to give three months extension so as to enable those who brought in their vehicles without paying duties to do so.
“Try to improve the checks on this. We too in government we need to encourage the executive. Someone asked me why our borders were the way they are. In other countries, they are built with walls but our is just an iron used to block the road. The executive arm of government has to do something about the borders, so they can be tight enough,” the lawmaker said.
Addressing the lawmakers, Customs’ Assistant Comptroller General in charge of Modernisation, Saidu Galadima who noted that members of the National Assembly were not among the elites involved in patronising smuggled vehicles, said any Officer involved in act sharp practice would be penalised.
“Unfortunately, today the big men today in Nigeria, I didn’t say national Assembly members, all their escort vehicle Hilux are smuggled vehicles. MDAs patronize smuggled Hilux vehicles. That is why if you go to our system, the number of Hilux importation has dropped but you find hundreds of them in town.
“Mostly used as escorts, if you make an amendment to the next finance act to make an amendment to procurement act that before a vehicle is taken over, you verify the custom duty it would go a long way. NCS buys Hilux vehicles, but they do not take delivery until when the papers are verified that duty is paid. As I am talking to you now many officers are before the board meeting for discipline for this offence”, Galadima said.