A new Bill at the House of representatives when assented to by the President is set to restrict the appointment of the Comptroller General of Customs within the Service, and make appointment of same from outside the Service illegal.
This is coming against the backdrop that the current Comptroller General came in from outside the service a situation many believe will discourage the struggle for excellence among the heirachy of the service.
The House of Representatives had on Tuesday considered and approved the report of the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise, on a Bill seeking the repeal of the Customs and Excise Management Act, enacted 63 years ago.
While presenting the synopsis of the report before the Committee of the Whole, the sponsor of the Bill, and chairman House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Leke Abejide, took lawmakers through the existing shortcomings militating against effective performance of the Service.
According to him,”The passage of this Bill is a step in the right direction, especially in view of the fact that the Bill is the fàirst major reform in the Nigeria Customs Service
(NCS) Legal Framework in 63 years.
The old Act has become obsolete in
today’s competitive global world and also, in effective operations of the
“A review of the Act seeks to reposition the NCS for improved efficiency and service delivery. Full automation of the NCS with modern reality will facilitate trade, improve revenue generation and more importantly expose illegal importation of arms and ammunition into the country. All these would be made possible when this Bill becomes an Act” .
Hon Abejide pointed out notable legislative initiatives in the Bill saying it will enable the “collation of all Customs and Excise legislations into a single compendium of Customs & Excise Act to facilitate easy reference and easy knowledge driven Customs and Excise policies.”
According to him, “This Bill when it becomes an Act will position Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable and this will enable NCS to recruit the required number of Officers they need to man our porous border stations. The Nigeria Customs Service currently have 15,349 Officers instead of 30,000 Officers needed for the Service to function optimally.
“The current 7% cost of collection from the Duties payment is not enough to pay salaries of officers, not to talk of improving the infrastructures. For this reason, this Bill provides for funding system based on 4% FOB, according to international best practice, to address funding problems and to reposition the service for improved efficiency and service delivery, as such 7% cost of collection shall cease to exist the moment this Bill becomes Law.
“Making the Act more readable to the understanding of the principal
stakeholders thereby deviating from hitherto strict legal drafting of the
“Providing stiffer punishments for offenders to act as deterrence for
serious economic crimes of Customs and Excise oriented thereby
encouraging more revenue in the area of payment of fines.
“Provision of Legislative input into the appointment of Comptroller General of Customs similar to other organisations like Inspector General of Police, Nigeria Immigration Service, and the Service
Chiefs. This is based on the economic importance and security implications the occupier connotes to the national economic and security development.
“Provision of Arbitration Panel for the purpose of dispute resolution to
reduce multiplicity of cases at the court of law relating to customs issues. A situation whereby dispute arose between the Nigeria Customs Service and a Stakeholder and is same NCS that will set up panel mainly comprising of Customs Officers to judge then justice is
far from being served
“Rejigging the Board of Customs and Excise Management with competent and result oriented technocrats for smooth and fast operation of its functions, putting round pegs in round holes.
“Provisions in line with international best practice with realistic deviation from the 1958 Act that has become obsolete in injecting combative approach to revenue and trade facilitation.
“Boosting the morale of Customs Officers with incentives introduced
to carry them along in the scheme of things from the Comptroller General down to the last employee of the Service in line with revenue generation institutions and service delivery mechanisms.
“Introduction of new Excise collectable revenue avenues in line with the recently enacted Finance Act 2021 for the smooth operation. The collection of Excise Duties on all carbonated drinks now captured in this Bill for the Nigeria Customs Service to have adequate legal
backing to function in this area”.
He added that “the aforesaid
developments injected into this Bill is sufficient to implode economic
development, facilitation of trade and greater revenue generation in tandem
with the goal and target given to the Nigeria Customs Service in view of
fiscal independence and autonomy our economy is yearning for.”
“The most innovative inclusion into this Bill is the objectives of eradicating
problems of corruption, fraud and malpractices together with inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in operation of the Service, which have hindered the
desire to contribute maximally to the economic development of the nation.
“Finally, this Bill is in tune with ICT development which is going to give the
Service the ICT demand it requires for its operations in line with international best practice. This would ensure a model that can think a thousand times faster and more efficiently than humans do,” he argued.
In agreement with the sponsor’s argument, the House upon reverting to plenary read the Bill for the third time and approved same as passed.
Senate urges FG to withhold statutory allocation to LGC without elected officials
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to henceforth withhold statutory allocation to the Local Governments Councils(LGC) without democratically elected leaders
In the last three months of August, September and October the Local Governments received N702.647b out of N1.006 shared for the three tiers of government in the period under review.
The legality or otherwise of the Federal Governmemt’s power to enforce the Senate’s recommendation is left for legal experts to analyse
The Senate’s recommendation came after debate on the Urgent Need to halt the erosion of democracy: the dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State sponsored by Sen. Moro, Abba Patrick (Benne South)
The senate condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria
It also resolved to urge the Federal Government to review the Benue State governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
The upper legislative chamber urged the governor of Benue state to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While leading the debate Senator Moro he was dismayed by the dissolution of Democratically Elected Councils in Benue State,
According to him, replacing the elected chairmen with Caretaker Committees to is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Quoting Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he said it guarantees a system of local government by Democratically Elected Councils.
He insisted that it is the Constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of Local
Government Councils by law.
He indicated that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies etc not to tamper with the tenure of the elected Councils
He therefore challenged the Governor/Government of Benue State to first appeale the outstanding judgments which has not been done adding that it is against the grain of the rule of law
Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) pointed out thatabout 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials.
He urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding LGS without elected council officials.
Oshiomhole’s suggestion was supported by Senator Ali Ndume.
The senator representing Oyo North, Abdulfatai Buhari indicated that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
The President of the senate Godswill Akpabio also frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
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