Reps flay Customs for mismanaging 22 scanners

Hameed Ali
Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service.

 

The House of Representatives has expressed anger over $120 million 22 cargo scanners purchased by the Federal Government but were mishandled after take over by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed the displeasure at a one-day public hearing by the House Committee on Customs and Excise on Monday in Abuja.

The lawmakers said Customs officials mismanaged the 22 scanners they took over from destination inspection service providers in 2014. The scanners stopped functioning within a year of takeover by Customs.

“In 2006, Nigeria acquired cargo scanners worth more than US$120 million, and retained the service providers on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) terms,” he said.

He stated that the contract also provided that the service providers would provide training and technical support services to NCS on risk management, valuation and classification.

According to him, by the end of 2013, the transition process from COTECNA, SGS Scanning Nigeria Ltd, and Global Scan Systems Nigeria Ltd, the former service providers, was completed and the scanners handed over to the NCS.

He added that within a year of the handover, the scanners had stopped functioning and Nigerian ports and borders were again returned to the analogue process of physical examination.

He said that the scanners were installed at various Customs operation locations at Apapa Port, Tin Can Island Port, Onne Port; and Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Others affected were the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Seme and Idi-Iroko borders, Port Harcourt and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airports.

Speaking, the Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide, said it was disturbing that the Federal Government was not keen on taking serious action on scanners across Nigerian ports, airports and land borders.

He said that most arms and ammunitions came into the country without detection by security operatives. He added that it was easy for arms and ammunitions to go undetected because scanners that should detect them were not functioning.

One Manoj Jagtiani, who claimed to be the Chief Executive Officer of Merry Aviation Electronics, said the company was involved in the management and supply of the scanners.

He said when the scanners were handed over to Customs, it made every effort to reach out to the service to advise on management and maintenance but its efforts were rebuffed.

According to him, the machines are the most effective, reliable and efficient equipment required to tackle congestion at the ports and to make Customs job more efficient.

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