The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, retired Colonel Hameed Ali, can wear jeans and T-shirt to office if he ends smuggling, Senate President Bukola Saraki has said.
Saraki said this while declaring open a public hearing on ‘Smuggling – A threat to Nigeria’s quest to self sufficiency in rice production’ yesterday.
Saraki, in the presence of Ali, said: “Once you end smuggling, even if you want to wear jeans and T-shirt, I will personally move the motion to support you”.
Ali has been having issues with the Senate over his failure to wear Customs uniform.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Customs Excise and Tariff said yesterday that a total of 282 vessels are missing at the various terminals of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA).
Committee chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo) said documents in the possession of the Senate showed that the vessels got missing between 2010 and 2016.
He said the documents contained the names of owners of the vessels and the officials of the NPA, who released it to them without documentation.
“In the process of our investigation, we discovered that 282 vessels are missing at NPA. We want the NPA to come and explain what happened to 282 vessels that disappeared from terminals. We have names of the releasing officers,” he said.
Uzodinma who said officials of the NPA are to appear before the committee on Thursday, said over N7trillion worth of goods are smuggled into the country annually.
He said a latest World Bank report showed that $15bn (N4.35trillion) worth of goods are smuggled into the country through the sea ports annually.
He said the report further revealed that $5bn (N1.45tr) worth of different goods are smuggled into the country annually through Benin Republic alone.
“Put together, it means goods worth over N7tr are smuggled into the country each year. The frightening thing here is that the annual turnover in the hands of smugglers is more than our annual Federal budget, “he said.
Uzodinma said the World Bank report also revealed that over 25 percent of the total annual revenue collected by Customs Service is lost to smugglers annually.
Saraki described smuggling as the singular greatest threat to the delivery of the campaign promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to diversify the economy