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April 21, 2024
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Group calls for Nigeria Customs Act amendment for enhanced service delivery

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By Diana Omueza

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has called for the amendment of the Nigeria Customs Act for an enhanced
service delivery.

Mr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, the Executive Director, CHRICED, stated this in Abuja at a news conference.

Zikirullahi said that the alleged revelations of monumental corruption in the Nigeria Customs Service had necessitated the need for a reform to overhaul of the service.

“On Feb. 27, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported a corruption scandal involving a group of seven high-ranking officers from the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS).

“According to a media source an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission revealed that these officers were found to have accepted a total of N12 billion in bribes from smugglers.

“Undercover investigator Fisayo Soyombo of Foundation for Investigative Journalism also revealed in a 16-minute undercover video showing how easy it is to smuggle anything into Nigeria with the complicity of corrupt customs officials.

“In spite these actions, the President Tinubu led administration has not taken significant action to hold those responsible accountable,” he said.

He added that centre strongly condemned the deep-rooted corruption, deliberate sabotage, and misconduct at high levels within the NCS.

“We urgently call for thorough investigations and a complete overhaul to restore the organisation’s integrity,” he said.

Zikirullahi said that it was disgraceful that in spite of the recent exposure of a massive bribery scandal involving senior officers the government had yet to take action.

He urged the President to take decisive measures to provide the necessary leadership in the fight against corruption in the country.

Zikirullahi said that the absence of accountability and transparency in the government had created a culture of impunity which is eroding public trust in government institutions and hindering the nation’s progress.

He called for a transparent and timely review of the annual auditor general’s report and that recommendations be made concerning the misuse of powers by the NCS and the Minister of Interior.

“We call for the immediate initiation of measures to recover the unlawful waivers granted by Customs to companies and personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We recommend immediate suspension and prosecution of the corrupt Customs officers identified in the EFCC investigation, along with the recovery of the entire bribe amounts they received.

“We call for prompt investigation, arrest, and prosecution of all officers implicated in the recent undercover investigation by Fisayo Soyombo.

“Specifically, we propose a thorough inquiry into the accusations of smuggling of foreign rice and other prohibited items by a senior customs officer in a video featuring the infamous smuggler, IBD Bande,” he said.

Zikirullahi called for immediate implementation of other audit actions, including sanctions against the comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs regarding non-remittance of levies, taxes, and other infractions of established public sector financial regulation.

He urged Tinubu to prioritise the establishment of a comprehensive national strategy to combat corruption.

He also suggested that autonomy be granted to anticorruption bodies to enhance the necessary independence and authority to effectively carry out their duties without any external interference or influence.

This, he said, was the only way to empower independent bodies to carry out investigations and prosecute corruption cases without fear of reprisal or political pressure.

“It is crucial to strengthen anticorruption institutions to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency.

“This can be accomplished by providing them with adequate financial and human resources to fulfil their mandate.

“This includes recruiting and training competent and dedicated staff, as well as equipping them with the necessary tools and technology to carry out their work.

“It is also imperative to rigorously enforce adherence to established financial regulations within the public sector and any violations should be swiftly and decisively dealt with, imposing appropriate penalties on those found guilty,” he said.

Zikirullahi said that such actions against corruption would serve as a deterrent to potential wrongdoers and send a strong message that corruption would not be tolerated.

He called for the adoption of best practices in financial management and procurement processes in public institutions and the creation of environments that are less susceptible to corruption.(NAN)www.nannews.ng

Edited by Auwalu Birnin Kudu/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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