By Godfrey Bivbere
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), has stopped the Unity Bank and eight others from collecting import duties on its behalf over alleged discrepancies of N5 billion discovered by officers of the serviceâ€™s Duty Investigation Team (CDIT).
The other hacked banks are Citi Bank Nig. Ltd, Fin Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Equitorial Trust Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Spring Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nig. Plc and Sterling Bank Plc.
NCS added that it is set to arrest officials of seven companies including Honda Nig. Ltd, Coscharis and Bua for allegedly defaulting in the payment of about N5.7 billion import duty.
NCS’s Comptroller-General, Mr. Abdullahi Dikko, said these in Lagos yesterday.
Dikko, who spoke through Deputy Controller, Mundu Hassan Mohammed, head of CDIT, stated that the service has been investigating various areas of revenue generation and has beamed its searchlight on remittances made by designated banks to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with the view of comparing payment schedule sent to it.
A source close to the committee said the amount involved is over N5bn statedÂ but that the actual amount could not be ascertained until after the affected banks submits their books for reconciliation.
He noted that while 15 of the banks responded to request by the service, the listed banks have refused to do so and therefore â€œthe service may presume any further delay as deliberate and maybe compelled to sanction uncooperative banks.â€
According to the Customs boss, â€œin the figures set to us, there are discrepancies running into millions of naira; we intend to clear the grey areas as soon as we have sufficient details from these banks.â€
Similarly, the Customs helmsman said following the expiration of the two months ultimatumÂ to importers and their agents who have defaulted in the payment of import duty yesterday, the CDIT has not only been instructed to block them out but also to commence the arrest of defaulters.
He listed the names of the companies leading in the default as Honda Nig. Ltd that has paid N1,680,324,547 ofÂ its N4.6 billion debt; Bua Groups, N407,375,427; Orazurike Trading Company Ltd,Â N453,345,537; Corporate Oil and Gas, N1,106,927,458; Intercity Commodities, N372,822,990; Coscharis, N216,778,715 and Top Feeds, N105,777,756 .
He explained that â€œinvestigation have revealed that some manual payments to the tune of N14,966,224,052 was made during the e-payment era. Ordinarily these manual payments should not have arisen.â€
He pointed out that while investigation is still ongoing in the concerned command, â€œthe team has also discovered a huge amount of deliberate under-valuation of import even against the value suggested by Risk Assessment Report (RAR) issued by the service providers.â€
â€œSo far a Demand Notice (D/N) of N6.1 billion has been raised against importers and agents who have colluded to defraud the federal government… These defaulters are now warned through this medium to hasten to collect their D/N, as CDIT has been given instruction to block out both the Importers and Agents involved as from today (yesterday) 31/08/09.â€
The Customs boss who disclosed that the team complied with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) standard, also said that the CDIT was constituted because of the out come of the public hearing by the National Assembly in May this year.