By Haruna Salami
The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS has disowned a loan of N4.5 bn it allegedly collected from the FG in 2013 to meet some “urgent expenditures”. NCS distanced itself from the loan when its topguns appeared before the Senate Public Account Committee, SPAC Thursday.
According to the 2015 Audit Report, the N4.5 bn loan to the NCS in 2013 was from N37.8 bn 10% Rice Levy to encourage the local production of rice. Various sums were also loaned to Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, NICOMSAT and others.
However, Hamid Ali, Customs CG said he was just hearing about the loan for the first time at SPAC meeting considering Auditor General’s 2015 Report. “I’m hearing this for the first time. I don’t know what urgent expenditure means”.
However, he said it could be part of the bailout out fund given to them by the government, but insisted that the NCS does not have any record of any loan from anybody.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide expressed displeasure over the way the money was disbursed to those agencies as loan. “Who appropriated the money Accountant General gave to those agencies “, he queried.
In another development, Senate took on CG Customs over five year none contribution of 5% staff pension to PENCOM as stipulated by PENCOM Act in Auditor General’s 2015 report being considered by the Senate.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide raised an eyebrow against the Customs boss, Hamid Ali, over the failure to remit the fund to the PENCOM.
He said the refusal of the Customs leadership to abide by the Constitutional provisions of the Pension Act, with regards to the pension of personnel, simply imply that the retirees of the Service have not been receiving their pensions.
Also speaking, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Kwara Central told the Customs CG that the money ought to hand been remitted to the PENCOM so long as NCS pays their staff monthly, be it half salary or full salary.
Responding to the query, CG, Hamid Ali said the Nigerian Customs Service has been suffering over insufficient fund, saying this lack of fund explains why the Service appears unable to remit the five percent fund to the PENCOM.
Hamid Ali said that the seven percent collection costs which the NCS deducts from revenue collections has not been enough to pay their staff, adding that when he took over as the CG Customs, the agency depended on bailout to carry out its operations.
He however assured the Senate that with the inclusion of Customs into the CSS of the federal government, the Service will be able to commence the remittances of backlog of the five percent to PENCOM.