The Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, says it is facing serious financial constraints which may lead to failure in meeting its targets and containing illegitimate trade practices by importers.
This complain follows the NCS face-off with the National Assembly leading to the refusal to pass the budget of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which significantly challenged its operations in 2017 and may likely continue in 2018.
The Senate and the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd)) were engrossed in a bitter disagreement over the refusal by Ali to wear the uniform of the NCS as it’s head to appear before the Senate, this leading to the non-passage of the 2017 appropriation budget of the service.
As it is today, the NCS budget for 2018 may also not be passed as the Senate has accused officials of the service and other government agencies of failure to honour its invitation for the consideration of templates contained in the 2018 budget.
However, reacting to ORIENTAL NEWS Nigeria enquirers on the matter recently, the National Public Relations Officer of the service, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah confirmed that the NCS relied on presidential intervention and support from the federal government in 2017 to make ends meet.
He also confirmed that non appropriation of funds by the National Assembly affected the NCS’s performance in 2017 even though they generated a record N1.3trillion revenue.
Specifically, he said: “We believed that what we are celebrating as our achievement of 2017 could have been better if not for paucity of funds. We look forward for improvement in our finances. Also, let me tell you that the service has received some interventions like the issue of patrol vehicles and in few weeks we will have those things delivered as the process has reached advance stage.
“We have also gotten the nod to form a presidential task force and funds are released in respect to that to acquire more vehicles, patrol kits for presidential task force that will be led by Customs including Civil Defence and NAFDAC.
“So, towards the end of last year we received robust presidential support, and received robust support from the federal government and early this year those money manifest to increase logistics and fund to do the job.
The PRO, however, assured that the service will improve on its relationship with the National Assembly in 2018.
“As regard relationship with Senate, we believe it will improve and I believe every new year comes with deliberate wish by everyone to do something better and we hope at the end of the day it will be at the interest of the nation.
“The NASS members are respected representatives of the people and they give us advice to get our job get better but we look forward to robust relationship that will translate to better environment to do our job, “he said.
The Customs spokesman also revealed that the reinvigorated anti-smuggling operations in 2017 raked in a total of 4,492 assorted seizures with duty paid value of N12,777,321,405.74. These seizures included 2,671 Pump Action rifles, dangerous/illicit drugs, vehicles and rice. 207 suspects were arrested in connection with these seizures.
“Apart from the difficulty, officers and men of the Service face in enforcing these laws, even when seizures are made, managing them become even more challenging.
“On what we do with seized items, it should be remembered that in January 2016, the NCS received a Presidential directive to donate all the seized perishable items to Nigerians affected by the activities of the insurgents in the North-Eastern part of the country.
“In February 2016, the Comptroller General of Customs inaugurated a National Logistics Committee with members drawn from the Customs, Army, Air force Police, Federal road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NAFDAC, NTA, NUJ and Red cross.
“The National Logistics Committee was mandated to transfer all seized rice and their relief materials to IDP camps in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Edo states, he said.