The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has alleged that Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are procuring smuggled vehicles, especially the ones used for escorts.
Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) in charge of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Aliyu Sa’idu made the allegation while responding to questions from the members of the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise at an interactive session in Abuja.
He said Customs officers involved in allowing such vehicles are being caught and penalised.
“Unfortunately, the big men in Nigeria, I didn’t say National Assembly members, all their escort vehicles, Hilux are smuggled vehicles.”
“MDAs patronise 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 Finance Act and Procurement Act that before a vehicle is taken over, you verify the custom duty, it would go a long way.
“NCS buy 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, Members of the committee called on Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to reduce all unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks that are making the clearing of goods at ports very difficult.
The Deputy Chairman of the committee, Mukhtar Ahmed (APC, Kaduna) said the Customs have created many desks which hamper the smooth flow of documents and delay the clearing and discharge of containers from the Nigerian Ports.
Chairman of the committee, Leke Abejide (APC, Kogi) charged the NCS to be proactive and adopt measures to leverage technology to improve on their operations.
He also advised the executive arm to look into the allegations of elites and MDAs patronising smuggled vehicles as stated by Nigeria Customs.
Responding, Aliyu Sa’idu said NCS’ system is being fully automated and will reduce or eliminate the current concerns on their operations.