The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) buy vehicles from smugglers.
Assistant Controller General of NCS, Aliyu Saidu, made the claim when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Customs on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Saidu represented the Controller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, before the committee over bottlenecks at the ports.
He said most of the escort vehicles are bought from smugglers, adding that there was a need for everyone to comply with existing policy,
“Unfortunately today, the big men in Nigeria – I didn’t say National Assembly members — all their escort vehicles Hilux are smuggled vehicles. MDAs, ministries and departments of government today, patronise smuggled Hilux. And that is why if you go to our system the number of Hilux importation has dropped but you will find them hundreds in town. Mostly they use them as escorts,’ the Customs officials said.
Mr Saidu also disclosed that Customs will be launching a mobile app to make tracking duties easy for Nigerians.
He said the app will be launched next week.
During an interactive session organised by the committee in August, importers complained of multiple clearing stages at the ports.
The lawmakers had ordered Mr Ali to appear before the committee to explain means to reduce the clearing stages.
The Chairman of the committee, Leke Abejide, had stated that the stages should be reduced to Comptroller Area Commander (CAC), Deputy Comptroller Revenue (DCR), Officer in Charge of Bond and then gate.
Deputy Comptroller, Tariff and Trade, Talatu Isah, who represented the CGC in August, was directed to devise means to reduce the number of stages from the over 18 stages.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Saidu said there are only six stages, and not 18 as claimed by the lawmakers.
Following back and forth between the lawmakers and the customs officials, Mr Saidu stated that the agency will put the recommendation into consideration.