A former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hamman Bello Ahmed, has raised an alarm on the controversial $3.1b Customs modernization Contract , saying the whole process was shrouded in secrecy and in flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Act. Ahmed who spoke with Shipping World Exclusively with Shipping World, said ” to the best of my knowledge , the entire process was fraught with fraud and so much in Secrecy. For instance, did you see any public notice in the National Dailies asking for bids. How did they arrive at the preferred bidder? How was the technical team picked and what was the evaluation process?, he asked.
The Customs boss took serious exceptions to the way and manner the contract was rushed and that Nigerians needed to know more. Ahmed who insisted that Nigerian had very competent hands to carry out such a mandate warned about the dire consequences. ” Does this imply that officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service would now hands off revenue collection duties and concentrate only enforcement duties and anti smuggling?
Ahmed disclosed that the $176m dollars projection by the consultants was a complete reap off when viewed against the background of a recent Senate report which said the Service lost a whopping N30b to revenue leakages between 2007 and 2017. ” We also need to know if the $176m projection is for the entire 20 years duration of the contract or what would generated monthly?”, the former Customs Chief asked. Ahmed also disclosed that this new contract may cost the Nigeria Customs Service a whopping 60 percent to 70 percent job loss. Said he: ” You don’t expect that the Concessionaires would retain the present workforce since the new arrangements would imply that officers would no longer we involved in revenue collection duties”, he concluded.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council last week approved the concession of the Nigeria Customs Service to Messrs E Customs HC of China at a cost of $3.1b. The Contract will run for an initial period of 20 years, according to official sources from the Federal Ministry of Finance.