The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, has said the Federal Government is losing about N6.5trillion yearly because of the corrupt practices in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The lawmaker said the nation did not need to borrow to operate and develop its infrastructure if corruption in the NCS and other government agencies had been curbed.
Fadahunsi, who said this in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, said the country would make a lot of money from customs duties with proper management
According to him, the Senate Committee on Customs and Tariffs intercepted some shipping containers suspected to be carrying arms and ammunition, tramadol, used clothes and other banned items.
Fadahunsi, who represents Osun East in the Senate, said corrupt customs officers were also colluding with clearing agents to under-declare the value of imported goods in order to pay lesser duties.
He also said the shipping containers brought in from China were not being carefully examined despite the threat of Coronavirus.
He said some of the containers were loaded with, used clothes from China.
Fadahunsi said, “Instead of getting about 25 or 30 per cent, the Federal Government is getting just five per cent because of some greedy officers there. Nigeria can get between N7trillion and N8trillion. The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali, should be blamed. He is the head and he has sacked the almost 50,000 workers, having about 15,600. Despite this, corruption has continued.
“They said the revenue generated by the service has now hit N1.5trillion but I disagree with them. They rake in five per cent duties to the government’s purse. The remaining is shared. They should be collecting between 25 per cent or 30 per cent. Can you see the huge revenue loss now? Government is not supposed to be borrowing money if the corruption in the Customs has been successfully tackled.
“Government should get between N7trillion and N8trillion from Customs and now that their salaries have been increased, there should be no reason to steal again. But stealing is ongoing there.
“The task force which Ali set up are the ones escorting smuggled items into the country. There are some containers which the Senate Committee on Customs intercepted at Onne Port. They are 78 containers suspected to be carrying tramadol, second hand clothes and other banned items. We have impounded the containers and we want to open them in the presence of the public to show that our economy is bleeding.
“The Customs said it was not our duty when we demanded that the containers be opened. We said let all the security agencies be there and let journalists be present while opening the containers. We are still arguing on this. Ali should let us open the containers to show to the whole world that he is not corrupt.”
Also, a source at the Onne Port told our correspondent that the activities of corrupt NCS officers were making the nation to lose so much revenue.
The source said the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had ordered that these activities should be investigated.
‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent
A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.
COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables
Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.
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