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Nigeria Customs Doesn’t Have $3.2bn Modernisation Project Details, CG Tells Senate

The Comptroller’s representative also said itcwould have generated more revenue but for waivers and concessions.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday, disclosed that it does not have details of the Customs’ $3.2 billion modernisation project.

The Comptroller General of the NCS, Adewale Adeniyi, made the disclosure in Abuja.

He was represented at a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committees scrutinising the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper by the Deputy Comptroller General Mba Musa.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa, is leading other chairmen of the Appropriations, National Planning, Local and Foreign Debt panels to conduct the investigative hearing.

The Senators inquired from the Customs CG, details of the agreement signed by the federal government on the modernisation of the NCS.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in April 2023, approved the NCS’ modernisation project, also known as e-customs, despite a court order restraining the federal government from going on with the initiative.

The administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, had specifically approved the implementation of the Customs modernisation project to a concessionaire.

The concessionaire was Bergman Securities Consultant and suppliers limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation UFC as lead financier while Huawei Technologies was to be trained as lead technical service provider.

However, stakeholders have knocked the project, saying it was to mortgage the future of the service and also inimical to national security.

Mba told the lawmakers during the joint session that the NCS was not privy to details of the modernisation agreement.

“We are not privy to details of the modernisation agreement of the Nigeria Customs Modernisation Project,” Mba told the federal lawmakers.

He also declared that the NCS’ loss of N1.3 trillion in 2023, was due to waivers and concessions the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had granted to investors.

He explained that NCS would have generated more revenue to the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund in 2023, if not because of the waivers and concessions arrangements.

Obviously not comfortable with the arrangement, Musa, the Chairman of the Joint Committee, said the Senate would commence investigation into granting of waivers and concessions in the country.

He said, ” By now we shouldn’t be talking about concessions for cement manufacturers, we should not even be talking about sugar importation.

“We should not deny ourselves, revenues that we should generate to make our economy vibrant. By now, we should be consolidating on waivers given to boost revenues.

“We would review the waivers and make our recommendations. By now, you (NCS) should be meeting up on your projected target, if there are no waiver,” Musa added.

Sunday Aborisade