The Senate yesterday expanded its panel currently investigating alleged N30 trillion revenue leakages in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
This followed a point of order raised by the Chairman, Committee on Customs Excise and Tariff, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo).
The chamber also mandated the Committee on Marine Transport to collaborate with the committee on Customs, in the probe in view of more revelations emanating from the exercise.
Uzodinma, who was made chairman of the joint committee, cited Order 42 and Order 52, and said that the committee discovered more discoveries beyond the N30 trillion currently being investigated.
According to him, the committee requires more hands in the investigation as it discovered that beyond foreign exchange fraud, more trillions of Naira was lost to shady deals by some Asian companies.
“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 Nigeria Government will not collect one kobo.
“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,’’ he said.
While lamenting the level of decay in the system, Uzodinma added that the fraudulent activities were carried out through various infractions, including incorrect classification, undervaluation, under-declaration and incorrect origin.
Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, said the Senate ought to be commended for blowing whistle into the fraud in the Customs Service. (NAN)