The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate allegations of corruption in the clearing of imported goods by the Nigerian Customs Service (NSC).
The lower chamber mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the allegations against the NCS.
The resolution followed a motion moved by Abbas Adigun (PDP, Oyo) on Wednesday during plenary. In the motion, Adigun said Customs officials create artificial bottlenecks to delay the clearing of goods at the ports.
He stated that “artificial bottlenecks devised by customs officials to exploit importers has resulted in huge financial losses for importers and clearing agents.”
“The corruption at the ports is frustrating the ease of doing business policy of the federal government,” he said.
He stated that despite an Executive Order on the ease of doing business at the port, the level of delay in clearing procedure at the ports in Nigeria was still alarming and had resulted in situations where importers and clearing agents were made to pay exorbitant charges for demurrage to shipping companies and terminal operators.
“Importers tend to adjust prices of the goods to reflect the additional expenses, thus creating a situation that is perpetually reducing the purchasing power of the masses,” the lawmaker said, adding that unless there is a reform to reduce the number of Customs units involved in cargo clearing, “the turn-around time will continue to be impacted negatively”.
Consequently, the House urged the NCS management to ensure that import duties and levies for all categories of goods are clearly stated online. It said intending importers can then simply use their bill of laden details to make payment and that the 24-hour cargo clearance stipulated by the Service is implemented.
Also, the House urged the Federal Government to ensure that all examining agencies, especially the Nigeria Customs Service are connected to the proposed National Single Window project to make the cargo clearance process more effective.
The committee charged to carry out the investigation was given three weeks to report back to the House.