By Christiana Ekpa
Senate yesterday set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the alleged ongoing monumental economic waste at the warehouses of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and report back to the upper legislative chamber accordingly.
The decision of the Senate followed a motion, on the “Urgent need to investigate and curtail the ongoing monumental economic waste at the Nigerian Customs Service”, sponsored by Senator Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South).
Presenting the motion, Hassen said reports have shown that the NCS “currently has in its warehouses loads of seized perishable goods of high economic value”, adding that these include food items, goods obviously seized from commercial traders.
He maintained that it was the duty of the Service to “ensure that contraband goods do not make their way into the Nigerian market through illegal importation”.
He explained that it was meant to develop the Nigerian market and avoid the country from becoming a dumping ground for contraband items, noting that “this is to ensure economic efficiency, growth and development”.
Senator Hassan further clarified that “the objective is fully defeated if it leads to hardship, inefficiency, waste and destruction of value”.
“A reason the custom service in the past had adopted the practice of auctioning these items for a more efficient use of the ceased goods especially with the high level of economic hardship that our people are facing at the moment”, he said.
The senator also observed that “this practice denies the offenders the benefit of the economic value of the items and ensures that the countries value in the transaction is not completely destroyed as a result”.
He said that these reports indicate that the Customs warehouses in Kano, Kastina, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Western Marine Lagos, Eastern Marine Port Harcourt and Zone C Federal Operations, Owerri and Port Harcourt are currently filled with these seized perishable items and rotting away at great cost to the economy, Nigerians and the nation in general.
Senator Hassan noted with dismay that these items which ought to have been kept for only for a short interval are now being kept for so long in the Custom’s warehouses, amounting to large economic waste;
According to him, the usual practice before now was that the goods when seized are auctioned off by the Customs to the general public.
“However, these auctions are rarely done in recent times and these reports show that the custom warehouses are brimming with spoiled or almost spoiled goods while people are dying of hunger” he said.
Senator Hassan said that “in these desperate times when hunger is prevalent in the country, the public auctions ought to be done more efficiently to help alleviate the hunger situation rather than have these goods waste away in badly stored conditions at these warehouses”.
“ It is also not in the general interest of our economy to contain these wastes, hence the need for customs to decongest its warehouses and turn these wastes to useful gain for the Nigerian people” he added.