Uche Usim and Steve Agbota
Following the expenditure of N1.6 billion on the ongoing recruitment of 3,200 job seekers, stakeholders in the maritime sector have demanded probe of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd),
As a matter of exigency, the stakeholders also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to wade into the matter, as others called for a public hearing.
The Public Relations Officer of Customs, Joseph Attah, said it is wrong to attribute the sum to only the recruitment excluding the bigger picture of six months training period.
“The N1.6bn being quoted for recruitment of 3,200 people into the Nigeria Customs Service without the details captured in the budget is quite misleading.
“For clarity, the correct figure is N1,570, 769,000.
“This covers recruitment process which is N300,000.000, feeding 0f 3,200 put at N2000 each, daily for 6 months amounting to N1, 152,000000.
“Then Logistics, training kits and teaching allowances all carefully calculated to arrive at the N1,570,769,000.00,” he said.
Discussing the issue with newsmen yesterday, the former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu, urged agencies of government with forensic capabilities to investigate the allegation. Shittu noted that “this is an allegation coming from the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, who retired as a Deputy Comptroller-General (DCG) from NCS, so this kind of allegation should not be thrown under the carpet.
“When people that ought to know about issues speak out on fraudulent activities, then the authorities need to do the needful and investigate it properly. We cannot say because the Customs CG is always harping on the fight against corruption, so such allegation should not be investigated. We are talking about activities of Customs which always involve huge sums of public funds.”
According to him, government agencies with forensic capabilities like the EFCC, ICPC should come in and investigate the matter.
Also speaking, the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents (NCMDCLA), Lucky Amiwero, called for a public hearing on the allegation.
He added: “The man who made that allegation is number two in a Senate Committee that oversees the Customs. So there should be a public hearing on the matter as well as a thorough investigation by concerned agencies of government.
“Don’t let’s forget that Senator Fadahunsi served in the Customs for years and rose through the ranks to ths position of a DCG. So he might have information that we might not have. Therefore, the issue should be subjected to thorough investigation.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President of ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto, said, “such an allegation is too weighty to be discarded. Yes, I read the story and I am still surprised that no government agency is looking at the allegation or even investigating it.
“The person that made that allegation is not an ordinary Nigerian. He is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who retired as a DCG from NCS. Currently, he is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs.
So I don’t want to believe that he will just open his mouth to speak on such sensitive issues when there is nothing. The allegation should be investigated, and if found to be untrue, then the Senator should be made to face the consequences of his action.”