The Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Ade Fadahunsi, has accused the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, of paying a whopping sum of N1.6 billion to a consultant for the recruitment of 3,200 personnel into the service.
Fadahunsi, who is a retired Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs and current Sentaor representing Osun East Senatorial District, said, “The CG wants to recruit 3,200 persons and he paid N1.6 billion to a consultant to recruit 3,200 persons. The money is not for training but to just recruit them.
“I asked him if the Nigerian Army ever used consultants to recruit personnel and he said no. He said Customs officers are corrupt and he is bringing in a consultant to recruit 3,200 persons and he will pay the firm N1.6 billion.
“Are you recruiting five million people? The N1.6 billion is even in the budget and that is one of the reasons the budget was being queried by the leadership of the Senate.”
The lawmaker, who spoke in an interview published over the weekend, also accused Ali of allegedly inflating the cost of renovation of the Customs headquarters in Abuja.
“Customs headquarters was awarded for N2.7 billion then, but today the project is going to about N30 billion. The project has not been completed but the furniture contract for the uncompleted building has been awarded,” he said.
Speaking further, the lawmaker alleged that aside the suspicious payments for recruitment and headquarters renovation; other forms of alleged corrupt practices were ongoing in the NCS under Ali.
According to him, “Customs officers allowed traders to smuggle contraband goods and items into the country and now they are going round to raid their shops, it is wrong.
“They are already inside the country and what they should do is to encourage them to come and pay. I tell you, they will come and pay.
“I told the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd.), that his border management is poor. You don’t need to carry guns and start running after those people who have settled your boys. It is wrong, they paid bribes to the boys at the border and they are still running after them now.
“The border management is poor and it has failed. The same failure is seen at the ports, and that is the cause of port congestion.”
Speaking further, he said, “Soldiers are not trained to generate revenue. They are trained to buy ammunition and to kill. This man met more than 30,000 personnel in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), and today they are not more than 15,000 left. He has sacked all of them.
“If you see the fraud in the Customs now, you will be shocked, but nobody must talk. They make noise to cover this up, but if you go into their books, you will be surprised.
The Senator asked President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a competent professional to head the Nigeria Customs Service.
“Who is fooling who? If Mr. President sees what the man is doing, he will run out of the country. That is why I am saying that Mr. President should put a technical person from Customs there; if not, the man will run the place aground.”