The Senate says it has discovered overtime cargoes worth billions of naira stacked at the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, Lagos State, by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) for not less than 10 years.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Hope Uzodinma, made the disclosure when briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that the containers were moved there by the NPA to decongest the Apapa Port.
Mr. Uzodinma said the committee discovered the cargoes during its oversight visit to the terminal in Lagos.
The senator said the containers contained valuables such as transformers, cars and electronics.
The chairman expressed his disappointment over the non-implementation of the Act establishing the Nigeria Customs Service with regards to disposal of overtime cargoes.
“To see these number of containers with very valuable items in our various sea ports and airports, not claimed for a period of over 10 years, is to say the least very disappointing.
“This shows to some extent a sign of irresponsibility on the side of the authority. We are going to discuss with the hierarchy of the service.
“We will ensure that the Act that established the Nigeria Customs Service, which has also prescribed a procedure for disposal of overtime goods and seized cargoes, is respected and complied with.
“The only way to dispose these items or overtime cargoes is copiously captured in the Act and it is not going to be subjected to any further negotiation.
“Whatever that is defined in the Act is what should be done. Our responsibility as lawmakers who made the law is to ensure that it is followed forthwith,’’ said Mr. Uzodinma.
The senator said that with the global price of crude oil fluctuating on a daily basis, it was high time the Federal Government focused more on other sources of revenue.
“We are talking of economic recession in the country but you can see how many hundreds of billions of items of value that are lying at the Ikorodu Terminal for the past 10 years.
“What we saw at Volkswagen of Nigeria, Idiroko and Seme are not pleasant at all and now we are making another shocking discovery.
“Government must begin to do things differently if we must get out of this recession,’’ he said.
The lawmaker expressed the willingness of the 8th Senate to ensure that measures were put in place to take Nigeria out of recession.
“Senate has woken up and this discovery is a product of our oversight activities.
“When we show commitment, when we show patriotism, when we understand the meaning and relevance of national interest, our country will be better for it.
“We cannot continue to rely on oil revenue. God has endowed this country with enormous national resources and it is left for us to manage it well and we don’t have a choice.
“I think with the emergence of the President Buhari-led administration and with the change agenda, things must be done differently,’’ he said.
However, Mr. Uzodinma decried the lack of routine promotion for personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service.
He also decried the poor welfare package for the personnel in spite of their contribution to the development of the country.
The senator said that some of the officers were subjected to hardship having to make do with make-shift- tent in the premises.
“We are aware that for a long time, there has not been promotion in customs.
“We are aware that the motivation is not seriously there. We are working with the Comptroller-General to ensure that the routine promotion commences immediately and the welfare package is strengthened.
“We have been to the Customs barracks to see what is happening there.
“We will sit and plan on how best to provide sufficient welfare package for men and women of the Nigerian Customs Service,’’ he said. (NAN)