June 17, 2009

Task Force on Customs reforms warn officers on fraud

By Godwin Oritse
THE Task Force on  Customs Reforms   instituted by the Federal Government a few weeks ago has warned officers from involving themselves in fraudulent acts that may cost them their jobs if caught.

The Chairman of the Task Force Dr Bello Mohammed gave this warning last week in Lagos at a stakeholders meeting, saying that “we have not come to relive anybody of his duty, neither have we come to witch hunt anybody, but if you are caught in any shady deals or connive with fraudulent importers to short change the Government you have only yourself to blame”.

The Head of the Task Force noted that there are bad eggs in the service, just as there are bad importers whose only way of doing business is t o short change the government.

He explained that the Committee’s work is to look into the challenges facing the service and make appropriate recommendations which according to him , the government has shown the political will to transform the service.
His words “Our powers is to look into the operation  of Nigeria Customs Service and to make recommendation on how to improve it drawn from the powers of the board of Customs and Excise.

“We have not come to down size or retrench any body, but I beg you to stay clear of any form of unwholesome practice that would compromise the system because if you are caught you will not blame anybody but yourself.
“We are not going to be running the Nigeria Customs Service, we are not even going to interfer with its day to day operations.

“What we are doing is just looking around to see the problem areas both for the Customs Service , as well as the business community who are interacting with officers of the service.

“Once we found some of the bottlenecks, the idea is to make recommendations to remove these bottlenecks.
“We have been selected because we have been there before and we know where the shoe pinches, and we can look from outside objectively to see what can be done to make the system run smoothly.

“The Nigeria Customs Service has an image problem, but  the intention of  government now is to  weed out the bad eggs and reform those who are operating in the system, and then change the laws to make sure that they conform with international requirement of trade and provide working instruments for operators of the Nigeria Custom Service.

“We believe the image of the Nigeria Custom Service will soon be very clean with the Nigerian public and we appeal to the Nigerian public to work hand in hand with operators with the Nigeria Customs Service to clean up the system because it takes two to tangle”.