The Senate will soon recommend a comprehensive forensic audit into the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service following the country’s dwindling revenue.
The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Friday.
He said the action became necessary in view of the nation’s lean purse while the Customs which should be a major revenue generating agency was losing huge sums to private pockets due to lack of capacity. .
Fadahunsi said the forensic audit would position the service for effective service delivery.
He explained that the Federal Government did not need to take foreign loans if the NCS was fully repositioned for efficient service.
The senator, who retired as the Deputy Comptroller General at the NCS in 2008 after 33 years in service, said the non appointment of a professional to head the agency was a major setback for the nation.
He alleged that the lack of audit of the NCS since 2015 had turned the agency to a cash cow for some individuals to the detriment of Nigerians.
Fadahunsi said the panel would on resumption convey its position on the forensic audit to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who is the Chairman of the NCS board.
He said, “When we resume our oversight activities, we would call the stakeholders, especially the NCS revenue collection agents, to give accounts of how much they have generated within the year.
“The account of the Customs must be audited every year but the NIS accounts have not been audited since 2015. Since the NCS is not doing well on accountability, it is better for the Federal Government to do a forensic audit into the activities of Customs since 2015.
“The Federal Minister of Finance is the Chairman of the NCS board but we have observed that the minister has not been handling the affairs of Customs very well, because if she was handling it well, automatically, the NCS would sit tight.
“For now the NCS is stinking. There is a need to overhaul the administrative structure by appointing a professional customs officer to head the place.
“The current Comptroller General of the NCS, Col Hameed Ali (retd.), is not aware of the rots and leakages going on in the Customs under his watch. When there is a real forensic probe into the activities of the NCS, Nigerians would be shocked to discover that what they have seen and heard concerning the Niger Delta Development Commission is minor.”
Fadahunsi also lamented that the current management of the NCS was misleading the nation’s leaders regarding the borders’ closure.
He said, “Instead of facilitating Nigeria’s trade with other countries, they are blocking it through border closure just because of rice and tramadol which some people are bringing into the country.”
The senator also insisted that the revenue target of N950bn given to the NCS in the revised 2020 budget was too small.
He said, “The NCS has made N600bn between January and May when Nigeria was on serious lockdown. The target of N950bn giving to them for 2020 simply because of COVID – 19, is wrong and criminal.
“If they could make N600bn within five months, what are they going to be doing in the remaining seven months? Are they going to collect only N350bn and pocket the remaining?”