By Christiana Ekpa Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Customs has threatened to issue Bench Warrant to 26 firms that failed to submit relevant documents over Customs duty waivers they were granted by the Federal Government.
Recall that the committee chaired by Rep Abiodun Faleke, APC, Ikeja Federal Constituency, Lagos, had summoned fresh 41 companies which led to the recovery of N400m; but 26 failed to honour its invitation despite several letters sent out to the erring companies.
A source privy to this development told Peoples Daily that “Some of these companies that failed to appear have enjoyed customs waivers running into several billions of naira as they imported far and above what is required for the waivers they were granted.
“A particular company imported tiles for over ten hectares of land in the name of building a five star hotel; and so many infractions that the Customs Committee has unearthed since the investigative hearing started in March.
“We also discovered that most of the erring companies have too many things to hide; and the committee members have all vowed to unravel all those involved and dig deeper into the probe.”
When contacted, Chairman of the committee, Rep Faleke confirmed the non-appearance of the companies and vowed to fish them out saying, “Our efforts are simply geared towards ensuring we support the anti-graft war of this administration.
“You recall the House, in plenary on December 9, 2017, mandated the committee to investigate these alleged infractions of import procedures leading to monumental loss of revenue to the nation.”
He said that some of the indicted firms, upon appearing before the House committee at an investigative hearing, admitted their guilt and agreed to pay the duty on the imported items.
“As you can see, we are not only concerned about how appropriated funds are utilized, but we are backing the government’s anti-corruption war by action of our own.
“We’ve gone out of our way to be revenue earners for the government; and l can confidently inform you that companies that abused import duty waivers granted them have paid over N400million into government coffers.”
Faleke revealed that the committee summoned an additional 41 companies to appear before the House committee in relation to the import duty waiver abuse and 26 so far are yet to appear.
Among the companies summoned previously are: Dana Air and Bristol Helicopters, S V Hotels ltd Abuja and Top Rank Hotel Abuja, that still failed to show up.
Before the current revelation, Rep. Faleke had disclosed that 29 firms involved in the import duty scam have earlier been summoned to appear before the committee, to enable them clear the charges against them or face the wrath of the law.
He warned that all the companies invited are expected to appear on the date allotted to them, unfailingly, or risk sanctions by the House committee by next week Wednesday.
Some of the companies the House committee summoned in connection with the import duty waiver alleged fraud are: Seaview Emporium Limited, Pancham International Limited, Alfatek Integrated Ventures, Verona Industries Limited, Vital Products Limited, Odun & Remy Trading Company, Mac Resolute Service Limited, Viscous Global Investment Limited and Fadobra Ventures Limited.
Others include: China Homes and Office Equipment, Links World Redemption Enterprises, SCC Nigeria Limited, J.I. Ejison International Nigeria Limited, Tak Continental Limited, Metal African Steel Products Limited, Sunshine Guest House & Hotel Limited, Elim Top Suite Limited, Noktel Resort Hotel, Naks Hotels & Tower Limited, Luxurium Leisure Service and Chelsea Hotel.