The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Tuesday said that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has carried out illegal importation of petrol since 2002 without the payment of duties amounting to N46 billion.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of Accounts and Tariffs, Ndubuisi Nwaogu, stated this at an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the House had at an emergency session on January 8, constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the fuel subsidy regime in the country.
Mr. Nwaogu said the amount had accrued from the approved N1 per litre on PMS (petrol). The revenue expected to be collected by the Customs is supposed to be paid to the federation account.
He alleged that NNPC had prevented the Customs from obtaining actual records on its importation of other petroleum products.
The Customs chief also said that NNPC was responsible for shutting out the Service from verifying all government payments on subsidy in the last seven years.
Mr. Nwaogu said that NNPC had, through some businessmen, brought in crude oil into the country and refined such at Kaduna Refinery without following due process, while the product would later be sold to unknown consumers outside the country.
He said that NNPC had engaged smaller vessels to round trip imported refined products from mother vessels designated to Nigerian ports in a bid to evade customs tariff.
He said that Customs could not determine the quantity of refined products imported.
Mr. Nwaogu said the problem of customs was further compounded by the fact that petrol was being imported into the country duty-free because of a 2002 waiver by the Federal Government.
He also revealed that NNPC currently owes the Customs the sum of N46 billion being the duty prior to the waiver.
He said the NNPC had always said that the vessels could not come to Nigerian ports because they (the quays) could not accommodate the vessels.
Mr. Nwaogu also disclosed that whenever the Customs sought to enforce due process in the importation of fuel, it was always told to ignore them in order not to delay the free flow of fuel into the country.
He said the Ministry of Finance had even written to direct Customs to ignore all due processes regarding the importation of products, particularly the products imported by the NNPC.
The Customs officer said that Customs was only allowed to have access to products being imported by Independent Marketers adding that this was even not all the time.
“So, NNPC does not give us documents relating to any of its imported products