Reps to invite finance minister, customs boss, Emefiele over scanners deal

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise; Finance; Banking and Currency to invite Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Controller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.); and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, over the controversy surround the e-Customs project.

The committee is also to invite the Chairman of the CBN Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, and the Managing Director of Adani Mega Systems Ltd “in order to resolve the matter for the take-off of the project.”

The panel is to report back to the House within four weeks.

This is sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Chairman of the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Abejide, at the plenary on Thursday.

The motion was titled, ‘Urgent Need to Resolve the Debacle between CBN Technological Committee on CISS and Adani Mega Systems Ltd Hindering the Take-Off of Nigerian Customs Service E-Customs Modernisation Project.’

Moving the motion, Abejide recalled that the CBN Technical Committee on CISS had an agreement with Adani Mega Systems Ltd to engage the latter as service provider/vendor for screening service infrastructure for the inspection of all inbound and outbound cargo in Nigeria.

Abejide also noted that the CBN, in the said letter of engagement dated 16th February, 2017, also stated its statutory mandate to manage and supervise the project, as provided in Sections 13(1),15(i), and 5 of Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act, and Pre-Shipment Inspect of Imports Act.

He added that a Build, Operate and Own Agreement between the Technical Committee on CISS – on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and Adani Mega Systems Ltd in relation to the provision of the scanning services infrastructure (scanners) required that all operations was sealed and a ‘Certificate of No Objection’ was granted by the Bureau of Public Procurement after evaluating the profile of the company.

The lawmaker said, “The House is concerned that the level of engagement had reached the turning point whereby Adani Mega Systems Ltd had procured necessary equipment to commence the e-Customs projects as provided for in the contract but since 13th July, 2017, the project had stalled without solution in sight, further causing tremendous revenue loss to the Federal Government which, according to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, had earlier appraised of having the potential of yielding Up to $176bn over the course of the 20-year concession period.

“The House is also concerned that at the moment, Nigeria Customs Service still remains in the analogue era of conducting 100 per cent physical examination, which in itself is a major cause of congestion at our ports and greater loss of revenue to our dear country.”

Abejide expressed concern that the dispute between the parties was coming at a time when there is an alarming rate of undetected arms and ammunition entering into the country through the ports and border stations due to lack of functional scanners.

He said, “The House notes that the 2022 budget provided N3.9tn for debt servicing alone and this is asides repayment of principal (debts). If the e-Customs is allowed to take off by settling the issues between the FGN and Adani, the issue of borrowing will be reduced to the barest minimum, if not eradicated, because the Nigeria Customs Service would be able to generate twice, if not thrice, of what is currently being generated. Despite all these obstacles there is a possibility of NCS to generate over N2tn this year 2021.

“The House further notes that for the interest of the country and to reduce the country’s debt profile, the lingering crisis between the Federal Government through the CBN Technical Committee on CISS and Adani Mega Systems Ltd needs to be urgently resolved.”