Senate blames Customs, Immigration for N7 trillion smuggled goods yearly
• ACE kicks against Reps’ amnesty for looters bill
The Senate has berated the Nigeria Customs Service and Immigration Service for lapses that resulted in N7 trillion goods allegedly smuggled into the country yearly.
Besides, the World Bank recent report on smuggling in the country specified that $5 billion and $15 billion worth of goods are smuggled yearly through the Benin Republic and seaports respectively. But the loss of revenue from the international airports was not stated.
The colossal loss of revenue was on the front burner for investigation yesterday, during a public hearing conducted by the Senate committee on customs, excise and tariff in Abuja.
Senator Hope Uzodinma, chairman of the committee said the committee was to carry out a holistic probe on the operations of the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), ministries, departments and agencies of government and further identify the factors escalating the rate of smuggling of imported goods into the country and, to recommend appropriate penalties.
Uzodinma further revealed that 282 vessels were missing at the various terminals of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) between 2010 and 2016.Also, senator Dino Melaye took a swipe on the operatives of the Nigeria Customs and Immigration, alleging that they were collaborators in the smuggling menace as they could not convincingly distance themselves from the illegal operations of the importers whose warehouses are known to them and scattered everywhere in different cities of the nation.
Meanwhile, a civil society group, Alliance for Credible Election (ACE), yesterday kicked against the bill in the House of Representatives seeking to grant amnesty to looters.
The group which launched its campaign against corruption and unveiled plans to publish list of abandoned and unexecuted federal projects in six states across the country, stated that amnesty for looters bill if passed would be a boost to corruption.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the launching of media campaign on promoting citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption in Nigeria project, the Acting General Secretary of ACE, Lady Mma Odi, said looters should be punished to serve as deterrent to others.
The controversial Amnesty for looters bill sponsored by the member representing Ohaukwu/Ebonyi federal constituency of Ebonyi State, Linus Okorie, is expected to operate for three years from the date of commencement, with the ‘establishment of the Voluntary Taxable Income Recovery and Amnesty Scheme’
If eventually passed into law, past and present public officers, who have looted the treasury and other Nigerians, with fraudulently acquired wealth would be granted amnesty if they voluntarily declare their loots and invest same in the economy.
Elaborating on the modalities for tracking those abandoned projects, she said it was carried out in conjunction with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), and conducted in six states across the six geopolitical areas of the country.
Also, a coalition of 81 pro-democracy group, the Not Too Young To Run, yesterday kicked against the exclusion of the nation’s teeming population of youths from the affairs of governance in the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution.
The group’s National coordinator, Mr. Ibrahim Faruk wondered why the lawmakers excluded the “Not too young to run bill” which is the only bill that proposes for youth inclusion government in the report of the Joint Committee of Senate and House of Representatives Constitution review committee.
The group called on the leadership of the National Assembly to fulfill its promise to the Nigerian youth and the international community by ensuring the inclusion of Not too young to run in the report of the constitution review committee and its passage at plenary and also in the amendment of the constitution.