BY OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — The House of Representatives has directed its Committee on Customs and Excise to probe contracts worth N275 billion awarded to four foreign firms operating at the nation’s borders.
The contracts were for the provision of Destination Inspection Scheme, DIS; scanning services, risk management techniques and electronic platform at the borders.
Adopting a motion brought by Abimbola Daramola on the floor, yesterday, the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided, directed the committee to report back to the House within two weeks.
The affected companies include Cotecna Destination Inspection Ltd; SGS Scanning Nigeria Ltd; Global Scan Systems Ltd and Webb Fountain (Nigeria) Ltd.
The companies were supposed to build, equip, train and transfer their technology and expertise to the Nigeria Customs Service and hand over their functions seamlessly to them fully at the end of December 2012.
But Daramola had in the motion on the urgent need to prevent continued loss of revenue through ports inspection contracts, yesterday, submitted that in December last year, the Minister of Finance and the management of the Nigeria Customs Service in conjunction with the service providers curiously announced an extension of the contract for a period of six months without due process and against the overall interest of the country.
The lawmaker noted that as a result of the extension, N21 billion would be paid to the service providers irrespective of the quality of work and without handing over to the NCS or making Nigerians the dominant players after many years.
Daramola also expressed worry that the revenue potentials of the country were not being realised as adequate taxes were not being paid by the Destination Inspection Service providers.
According to him, the collection of government revenue is also not being maximised as over $1 billion of government revenue have been lost.
Malfunctioned audio system disrupts House proceedings
In another development, proceedings on the floor of the House were disrupted midway into the session as the quality of the audio system installed in the chamber malfunctioned intermittently.
The development forced the House to adjourn plenary until next Tuesday to enable the technical department to rectify the problem.
Deputy Speaker, Ihedioha said: “Because of the technical problem in the last 20 minutes, our proceedings have not been recorded. After consultations, we have decided to adjourn plenary till Tuesday due to the Eid-el Maulud holiday tomorrow (today) and also to enable the technicians rectify the problem.”
The parliament had earlier declined to pass a motion that sought to investigate the circumstances surrounding the non implementation of the policy on local production of cement in the country.
The motion titled “urgent need to investigate the non-implementation of the Backward Integration Policy on Local Production of Cement,” which was introduced by Hassan Saleh was rejected by the House in a voice vote by Members.
Saleh had drawn the attention of the Chamber to the fact that the FG was yet to vigorously pursue and implement the provision of the cement backward integration policy, which was initiated to encourage and protect local manufacturers from the dumping of cement products into the country through importation.
The development, he said had caused the management of Dangote Cement to temporarily shut down the Gboko Cement Plant in Benue State, and ask its workers to proceed on forced leave pending when the situation improves.