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Senate Probes Alleged N4tn Revenue Leakage in Customs

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  • Senate Probes Alleged N4tn Revenue Leakage in Customs

The Senate has launched a fresh investigation into the Nigeria Customs Service over the alleged revenue leakage under the border security agency between 2006 and 2016 to the tune of about N4tn.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Hope Uzodinma, made this known in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Friday.

Uzodinma stated that the committee would stop at nothing to recover the money, which, he said, was lost due to various infractions by the men of the service.

The lawmaker said a preliminary investigation by the lawmakers had shown that the over N4tn revenue leakage discovered was due to the non-implementation of the Form ‘M’ (Foreign Exchange forms) by the customs from 2006 to 2016.

Hameed Ali was appointed as Comptroller-General of NCS in August 2015.

Uzodinma said a public hearing would be held as part of the investigation.

The lawmaker also attributed the loss of revenue to wrong classification of cargoes under the Harmonised System Codes, non-screening of cargoes coming into Nigeria and lack of adequate Information and Communication Technology infrastructure for revenue collection.

Uzodinma added that the cancellation of pre-arrival assessment reports and abandonment of goods declaration had also contributed to the revenue loss.

He said, “The Senate Committee on Customs has condemned the inability of the Technical Committee on the Implementation of Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme to ensure that provisions of the Import Control Management Act are followed to the letter.

“The committee frowns on the quantum of revenue losses and it will stop at nothing in ensuring that those involved in this ugly act return all recoverable monies with them.

“The committee also frowns on the level of collusion and corruption within the Customs Service.

“At the end of our current investigation, all these will become a thing of the past and customs revenue will be enhanced while non-oil revenue will be improved upon.

“What we are investigating is not money spent. It is the leakages. For instance, I am supposed to pay XYZ amount of duty, I will abandon the documentation, go and get fake documents, collude with customs (officers), pay maybe a fraction of it (duty) and carry my goods. With that, the true import circle is not closed.

“Another instance is that assessment is abandoned or I (may) fill the Form ‘M’, for example, with a pro forma invoice, apply for foreign exchange in Central Bank of Nigeria, XYZ amount of money is allocated to me, money moves in (is released) but no goods shipped. I will then go get fake documents, collude with customs (officers) and then retire the allocation.”

Uzodinma decried that the alleged round tripping and false declarations had over years led to increase in the exchange rate. He stressed that in most cases, the amount of money spent was not commensurate with the number of goods being imported.

According to the lawmaker, the committee had started questioning the companies and banks indicted in the case.

“We will not mention the companies involved because we are also very careful of the integrity and public perception of some of these companies, being that some of them are in the stock market. We will be diplomatic in carrying out this investigation.

“This is to the extent that little or no damage will be done to the integrity and image of such companies, provided that government revenues in their hands will be recovered,’’ Uzodinma said.

When asked if the probe would not eventually be abandoned like in some previous cases in the Senate, Uzodinma explained that the lawmakers were, sometimes, faced with constitutional limitations.

He, however, stated that the current investigation would be concluded “because it has to do with the economy and revenue loss”.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

NNPC to Focus on Domestic Gas Growth, Says Kyari

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Gas Exports Drop as Shell Declares Force Majeure

FG, NNPC to Focus on Growing Domestic Gas Utilisation

Mr. Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said the corporation is presenting focusing on growing domestic gas utilisation.

The Managing Director disclosed this on Tuesday during a virtual BusinessDay Energy Series Summit with the theme, “Nigeria at 60: Harnessing Nigeria’s Energy for the Future.”

The NNPC boss also said the corporation is committed to delivering key gas infrastructures such as Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System II, Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben Gas Pipeline, Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline, and Central Gas Processing Facilities.

He stated that NNPC was working on developing five gigawatts of power generation by 2022.

He said, “At the NNPC we are aggressively pursuing other gas development initiatives with the aim of improving Nigeria’s economy using the appropriate fuels.

“In terms of gas and power, we are developing and integrating gas and power infrastructure networks (increase interconnectivity) as well as stimulating gas demand (power generation, feedstock and transport, etc).”

Kennie Obateru, the NNPC spokesperson, quoted the NNPC boss in a statement issued in Abuja. He said the corporation was working on domestic gas utilisation to five billion standard cubic feet of gas per day.

He added that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Train 7 would be completed and delivered by 2024.

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Economy

Senator Rejects Aisha Umar From North-East as PenCom DG Replacement for South-East

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Law Markers Rejects President Buhari’s PenCOM Director-General Nominee

The Senate has rejected President Buhari nominated Director-General of the National Pension Commission, Aisha Umar.

Some of the Senators, who vehemently protested the nomination immediately the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, read Buhari’s letter said Aisha Umar from the North-East should not be replacing the former DG, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, who is from the South-East.

The aggrieved senators said the action of the president is flagrant breach of the Act that established the PenCom.

According to Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, states, “In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint replacement from the geopolitical zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.”

Meaning President Buhari had acted against the Act establishing the PenCom.

Speaking on behalf of the aggrieved Senators, Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senate Minority Leader, said “I recall that the tenure of the incumbent was truncated. Therefore, the new letter from the president that has now moved the chairman of the commission to another zone may not be correct.

“It is against the law setting up the National Pension Commission and the Federal Character Commission.

“Before you (Lawan) send it to the appropriate committee tomorrow, (Wednesday), I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”

The Senate President, however, rejected the minority leader’s point of order and observation, saying “That is for me to interpret because I interpret the laws here. If there is any petition to that effect it should be sent to the committee.”

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Economy

Electricity Regulatory Commission Suspends Tariff Increase for 14 Days

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Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Suspends Tariff Increase for 14 Days

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has suspended the increase in electricity tariff in accordance with the resolution reached between the Federal Government and the Nigerian Labour Congress and Civil Rights groups.

The commission suspended the new tariff implemented on September 1, 2020 for 14 days.

The NERC, in its Order No. NERC/209/2020 issued around 10.30 pm on Tuesday, describing the regulatory instrument as “NERC Order on suspension of the Multi Year Tariff Order 2020 for the electricity distribution licensees.”

The commission said, “This order shall take effect from 28th September 2020 and shall cease to have effect on the 11th October 2020.”

This is coming a day after the labour union agreed to halt a nationwide industrial action to allow the government fashioned out a way to address the recent increase in prices from pump price to electricity bill.

Labour had described Federal Government action as anti-people policy, especially given current economic realities.

The government on the other hand had said the hikes were touch necessary decision to advance the nation’s economy and further improve power supply and revenue generation necessary to deepen economic growth.

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