The Senate has set up an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate what it called ‘economic waste’ at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
This followed a motion on “Urgent Need to Investigate and Curtail the Ongoing Monumental Economic Waste at the Nigeria Customs Service”, sponsored by Sen. Mohammed Hassan.
He noted that reports showed that the Nigeria Customs Service currently had in its warehouses loads of seized perishable goods of high economic value.
“These include food items, goods obviously seized from commercial traders,” he said.
“These reports indicate that the Customs warehouses in Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Western Marine Lagos, Eastern Marine Port Harcourt and Zone ‘C’ Federal Operations Owerri and Port Harcourt are currently filled with these seized perishable items and rotting away at great cost to the economy.”
The lawmaker said it was the duty of the customs service to ensure that contraband did not make the way into the Nigerian market through illegal importation.
“This objective is to develop the Nigerian market and avoid Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for contraband items. This is to ensure economic efficiency, growth and development.”
Hassan said the objective was fully defeated if it led to hardship, inefficiency, waste and destruction of value.
“A reason the custom service in the past had adopted the practice of auctioning these items for a more efficient use of the seized goods, especially with the high level of economic hardship that our people are facing at the moment.
“This practice denies the offenders the benefit of the economic value of the items and ensures that the countries value in the transaction is not completely destroyed as a result.”
He said prior to now, the goods when seized, were auctioned by the customs to the general public.
Hassan further said that the auctions were rarely done in recent times and the reports showed that the custom warehouses were brimming with spoiled or almost spoiled goods while people were dying of hunger.
He said it was not in the general interest of the economy to contain these wastes, hence the need for customs to decongest its warehouses and turn the wastes to useful gain for the Nigerians.
Seconding the motion, Sen. Jibrin Barau said it was not proper to confiscate the items and allow them to perish.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
After a voice vote by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the motion was unanimously adopted.