Senate Panel probing 'missing' N30trn in Customs recovers N140bn from indicted banks, companies

The Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs; and Marine Transport said the recovered funds have been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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The Senate panel probing the loss of N30 trillion in Nigeria's import and export value chain has recovered over N140 billion from banks and companies.

The Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs; and Marine Transport disclosed this on Wednesday, October 18, as contained in the panel's interim report.

The report was presented at the Senate plenary and adopted by the chamber.

The panel said the funds have been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

On November 15, 2016, the Senate ordered the investigation after the adoption of a motion titled, 'Urgent Need to Examine the Operations of the Nigeria Customs Service Revenue Drive.'

The probe panel was mandated to unravel any infractions going on in the Customs "with a view to identify the leakages and irregularities as well as the causes of the declining revenue profile of the service and come up with recommendations that will reinvigorate the revenue of the Nigeria Customs Service."

According to the report presented by the panel Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, some banks have remitted N128 billion to the CBN.

Also, some of the 60 companies investigated made voluntary payments of N12 billion into Federal Government's coffers.

"As a result of this exercise, some collection banks have made additional remittances to the Central Bank of Nigeria to the tune of N128bn and evidence of payment and receipt has been received by the committee," the panel said.

"From the selected 60 companies, over N12bn payments have been made to the government voluntarily by the companies based on their internal self-audit after receiving documented evidence of their culpability from our committee.

"It is instructive to note that despite all the payments so far made, none of the approved collection banks or the selected companies has fully cleared the established liabilities against them."

To this end, the committee asked for additional eight weeks to carry out its investigations.

ALSO READ: Senate orders arrest of Globacom CEO, 29 others over 'missing' N30trn

It added that the banks and companies currently under investigation represent less than one per cent of the entire import and export value chain.

Having identified 32 "leakage channels" as the "major sources of revenue losses" in the import and export business, the panel said; "These infractions...place extensive pressure on the nation's scarce foreign exchange."

"It also negates all Central Bank of Nigeria initiated foreign exchange management plans. This is because a distorted forex requirement does not essentially reflect the actual forex needs of individuals and businesses in the country.

"This situation benefits only the purveyors of capital flight from the country and adds absolutely no value to the nation."

The Majority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was said to have appealed to the upper chamber to give the panel more time to conclude its investigations, especially given the funds it has recovered.

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