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Nigerian Customs: FG suspends $300m modernisation deal

 

The federal government has suspended a $300m Nigeria Customs modernisation deal.
The Nation reports that the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, gave
the directive sequel to a resolution and letter addressed to her.
In a letter titled “Suspension of proposed concession arrangement for
the Customs modernisation project”, jointly signed by Chairman
Finance, James Faleke; Chairman Public Petition, Jerry Alagbaoso, and
Chairman Customs, Yuguda Hassan Kila, the lawmakers described the
proposed concession as “curious.”
The letter with reference number NASS/CHR/9/2019/JOINT/001 dated
October 30, 2019, read: “The House of Representatives on Thursday 10th
October 2019 at the plenary passed resolution No. HR132/10/2019
mandating a joint committee on Finance, Customs and Public Petitions
to investigate the curious proposed concession agreement between the
consortium Bionaca Technologies West Africa Limited- (Sponsors),
Bergman Security Consultant and Supplies – (Cosponsors), African
Finance Corporation (lead financiers) and Huawei (lead technical
service provider).”
The lawmakers added that their action is pursuant to Section 88 (1)
(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, as amended, which confers on the National Assembly power to
conduct investigations.
They urged all parties involved including the Nigeria Customs Service
and Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission to maintain
the “Status quo ante pending outcome of investigation.”
Alagbaoso had moved a motion that the deal be investigated and his
motion was agreed upon via a unanimous voice vote by the House.
Alagbaoso said: “There are some foreign companies who are very eager
to sponsor, finance and provide technical services to what they call
the modernisation of Customs, without recourse to the National
Assembly.
“My motion is the need to investigate the curious concession proposed
arrangement between the consortium Bionica Technologies West Africa
Limited, who are the sponsors; Bergan Security Consultants and
Supplies, who are cosponsors, African Finance Corporation, who are
lead financiers and Huawei, Nigeria Customs Service and Infrastructure
Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for customs modernisation
project.
“The House is aware that various customs modernisation projects in the
past. For example in the 90s, the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD) for the installation of ASYCUDA++ and
training of customs officers for three years.
“The House is also aware that the Federal Government agreed to engage
former pre-shipment companies for valuation and classification of
goods, hence some service providers namely Webbfontaine, Cotecna, SGS
and Globalscan were engaged for that purpose.
“This contract was to last for seven years, from 2005 to 2012 when the
service providers handed over to Nigeria Customs Service.
“By 2011, one could say the positive effects of this included
competent and committed workforce for Nigeria Customs Service,
personnel understanding of the new process and benefits to
stakeholders.
“It resulted to collection of proper revenue due, elimination of
corruption and other benefits. The House notes that with these put in
place, there exists a one stop shop which allows all trade
transactions to be conducted through a single system domiciled with
the customs.
“For example, all other government agencies like NAFDAC, SON and the
rest have dissolved into a single platform with the Nigeria Customs
Service.
“In 2011 there was an illegal concession between the Federal Ministry
of Finance and a company with inadequate capital base called Single
Window System and Technologies, signed in secrecy during the
government transition period and this House of Representatives had a
public hearing and stopped it to save Nigeria billions of Naira Vide
the votes of Wednesday, 13 July 2011, the House.
“In 2017 another move for customs modernisation was made by the
Technical Committee on the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme,
purported to be acting on behalf of the Federal Government called
Adani Systems Nigeria Limited to modernise, maintain, develop the
scanning of goods in the country in line with the pre shipment
inspection act for a period of 25 years.
“Again the attention of Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service
was drawn to this and the concession was stopped.
“Worried that billions of Naira will be frittered away from the
account of the one per cent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme
with the Central Bank of Nigeria, regarding the cost of this latest
customs modernisation by different parties involved.
“Further worried that there is no difference in substance, scope and
structure between the failed concession attempts of 2011, 2017 and
2019.
“There is already a national single window platform in the Nigeria
Customs Service and officers of the service are performing beyond
expectations, collecting duties in billions of naira on a daily basis.
“Convinced that the Federal Government is being misled by advice on
this one per cent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme, which has
accumulated in billions of naira in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“A motion for CBN to account for this money was moved in the 8th
assembly, the house, therefore, resolved to mandate the committee on
finance, customs, public petitions, committee on agreements to expose
the foreign and local collaborators involved in this project either as
sponsors, cosponsors, financiers and others.
“Mandate the CBN to account for the funds between 2012 and now and
urge all parties involved to maintain status quo until the outcome of
the public hearing and report back in three weeks.
“Three or four foreign companies are bringing their selfishness into
our national agenda. The fact that it failed in 2011, 2017 there is no
way it cannot fail in 2019,” Alagbaoso said.
Oriental Oil Signs MOU With Unilorin on Food Production
Oriental Oil Resource Limited (Indimi Group of Companies) and
university of Ilorin, (Unilorin) have signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) on food production investment and development
project Thursday in Maiduguri.
The Agricultural project which is the first of its kind to be embarked
upon by Indimi Group in any of the Nigerian universities worth
millions of US dollars is a 21 year lease agreement on land in Ilorin
where OER Farms Limited will collabirate on the agricultural project
with the University of Ilorin under full financial investment of
Oriental Oil Resources Limited Nigeria.
The Chairman/CEO, Oriental Oil Resources Limited who is also the
Chairman Indimi Group of Companies Nigeria, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammadu
Indimi and his Son, the Managing Director, Oriental Oil Resources LTD,
Malam Ibrahim Muhammadu Indimi jointly signed on behalf of Oriental
Oil Resources and Indimi Group.
The Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Sulyman Age
Abdulkareem and Registrar of the University, Dr (Mrs). Fola Olowoleni
jointly signed and sealed the MOU/Partnership on behalf of the
University at a ceremony held at the Maiduguri International Airport
Wing of Indimi Group of Companies Plc Thursday
The Chairman, Oriental Oil Resources Limited said he was happy and
satisfied to associate with the University on agriculture, noting
that, because of the level of high rate of importation of foreign food
items into Nigeria and availability of farmlands in different parts of
the country, especially for rice production and abundant untapped
farmlands for other cash crops which needed to be cultivated for both
local and international food consumption, his organization decided to
invest on the project.
He added that he was worried and prompted by the manner Nigerians have
quest for foreign rice and other foods while our local foods which are
more nutritious and marketable at the international markets are
neglected.
Indimi told journalists in an interview after the signing ceremony
that he was diversifying into agriculture but willing to invest on any
venture that business opportunity will avail to him.
” I am happy with the close of the borders despite ECOWAS call for the
reopening of the borders because the manner food items are being
imported into Nigeria is worrisome.
“I have investments in agriculture in others states. I have 35,000
hectares of farmlands in kogi state. I have some 200,000 hectares of
farmlands in other places. I look forward to working with you and
Ibrahim will be in charge of the project”, Indimi said.

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