Nigeria Customs cause nation to lose N38 billion in two years through Import license abuse. | African News – Nigeria News – African Politics

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Nigeria lost N38 billion in revenue between 2006 and 2007 due to the abuse of temporary importation and pre-release licences by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), a report by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, which investigated the poor performance of the service, has revealed.

The House had, in September 2008, asked the committee to conduct the investigation following a motion by a member complaining of the organisation’s poor performance.

The Yakubu Dogara-led committee, in the report billed for consideration this week, said about 26 companies abused the import licensing process, thereby making the country to lose so much revenue.

The report said nine of the companies were responsible for most of the temporary importations, for which there is no evidence of payment of duty, while the remaining companies were responsible for the highest number of dubious pre-releases.

The nine firms mentioned in the report are; APM Terminals, Hydandai Heavy Industries, Noble Drilling Nig Ltd, Global Pipelines Plus Nig Ltd, Saipem Contracting Nig Ltd, Panalpina World Transport Nig Ltd, Globestar Engineering Co Ltd, Phoenix Tide Offshore Nig Ltd and Bourbon Interfoil Nig Ltd.

Criminal abuse

Among the companies with the highest number of unperfected pre-releases are Shell Petroleum Development Company, Elf Petroleum, Total Upstream, Schlumberger Nig Ltd. Bicourtney Consortium, Obajana Cement Plc, Trans Ocean, Dansa Foods Ltd and Benue Cement Company.

The committee asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “to investigate the circumstances under which the above listed firms criminally abused the granting of Temporary Importation and Pre-Releases by repeatedly procuring the approvals as a means of defrauding government of revenue.” It further asked the Customs management to ban a total of 131 firms from securing Temporary Importations until they have shown satisfactory evidence of re-exportation or payment of duty on goods temporarily imported.

The committee insisted that it will verify that such evidence has been submitted to the House.

Besides, it also recommended that 107 companies be banned from securing Pre-Releases approvals until every one of them has shown satisfactory evidence of perfecting all Pre-Releases previously granted to them.

Some of the affected firms include Nigeria Security Printing and Minting, Delta Steel Company, Dangote Industries Ltd, OANDO Nig Ltd, Julius Berger Construction Company, Central Bank of Nigeria, Coca Cola, Unilever Nig Ltd, Orange Drus Ltd and Nigeria Breweries Plc.

NNPC must pay

The committee also recommended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should recover from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) the N45 billion it owed the custom service.

It said the debt arose from tax on petroleum products imported by the corporation into the country and there is no basis for the corporation’s refusal to pay.

The committee called on the federal government to revoke contracts to a firm, COBALT Ltd and commence the prosecution of its directors and promoters for covering the monumental fraud in the crude oil exports processes instead of exposing same.

It warned that all import and export activities by NNPC/Petroleum Product Marketing Company must be in accordance with extant laws and guidelines, and that without physcalization by the customs service as required by the existing laws, to determine the actual quantity of crude oil lifted and revenue accruing therefrom, there should be no export of crude.

It also asked government to prevail on the EFCC to recover the over $5 billion levy owed by crude oil exporters (OPTG of Lagos Chamber of Commerce) and prosecute the firms involved in exporting crude oil in violation of extant laws and guidelines.

The committee said it discovered that 14 foreign and local firms wrongfully collected about N45 million for contracts awarded to them by the customs service, and asked them to return the money. The contracts were for construction of offices in some states, drilling of boreholes and supply of rifles to the Nigerian Immigration Service headquarters in Abuja.

By Festus Owete,

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