Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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NIMASA, Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority under fire during NASS investigative hearing on shoddy remittances and illegal auctioning of public assets

MDAs and the issue of accountability and remittances.

The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Julius Ihonbvere has threatened to invoke relevant legislative powers to compel the new Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi and Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko to give details of all public assets sold by the Organizations between 2010 and 2022.

Hon. Ihonbvere had during the resumed investigative hearing into the disposal of public property by the Agencies between 2010 and 2022 to unravel the extent of illegal auctioning of public property, non-remittance of revenue realized into Consolidated Revenue Fund’, held at the weekend issued the threat notice.

Hon. Ihonbvere who presided over the Ad-hoc Committee frowned at the level of disregard for the Parliament by some of the heads of various Agencies, “particularly the Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority.

“Twice, we have summoned them but they refused to show up here. We know what our powers are and after this hearing we would be taking the next steps in that direction.

“Like I said at the very first hearing, our goal in the 10th House is to work seamlessly with agencies of government irrespective of what their functions may be. Because at this very time, we need all hands on deck to refocus and reposition this country.

“But since some agencies particularly the Customs and the NPA have proven recalcitrant, it is now left for this Committee and the House of Representatives to demonstrate to them the powers granted us by the Constitution and we will be taking that next step.

“We are not going to appeal to them again, we are not going to call them, we are not going to write to them; they would hear from the appropriate sections of the House of Representatives.

“This kind of political rascality and irresponsibility must stop! No Chief Executive is above the law, we are the lawmakers and when we summon an Agency here, that agency must show up. Because we have the powers to summon anyone in this country by powers that are guaranteed constitutionally and we think this kind of lackadaisical and almost infantile behavior at this stage, we have to check it and stop it,” Hon. Ihonbvere warned.

While warning the erring public office holders, the Majority Leader said: “we didn’t just get up and set up this thing, we didn’t constitute ourselves like what we used to call illegal checkpoint. This is not an illegal Ad-hoc Committee, it is sanctioned by the entire House following a motion that was set up on the illegal sales of government property by certain Agencies and I’m happy that many of them have turned up and provided documents and clarify issues and we didn’t have any problems,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Director General/CEO of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jimoh, is expected to appear before the Ad-hoc Committee on Wednesday to give further details on the sales of 82 vehicles at paltry sum of N5.8 million over the past 12 years as presented by the Executive Director Finance and Admin, Mr. Chudi Offodile.

Extracts from the documents adopted by Mr. Offodile further revealed that 39 exotic vehicles including Toyota Prado Jeeps, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Coaster Buses, Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, Toyota Avensis, Nissan Ovan Buses, among others were also sold at cumulative sum of N6,753,500 through Forced Liquidation/Auction Value in 2022.

In line with the resolution passed by the Ad-hoc Committee, Mr. Jimoh is expected to present list of all the Auctioneers as well as beneficiaries of the vehicles, the original cost of vehicles and invoices, letter of contract awards for auctioning of the assets to the Auctioneers; relevant approvals obtained from Federal Ministry of Works & Housing as well as Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

Recall that the NIMASA Executive Director Finance & Admin, Mr. Chudi Offodile who spoke on behalf of the Agency, confirmed that all the 82 vehicles were sold at N5.8 million.

While confirming that the revenue accrued from the sale of the vehicles were paid into the Agency’s account by the Auctioneer engaged by the Agency, he however expressed the Agency’s readiness to pay back the fund into the Consolidated Revenue Fund if so required by the Ad-hoc Committee.

The documents presented to the Ad-hoc Committee showed that each of the Peugeot Expert Ambulance with market value of N200,000 was sold at forced liquidation/auction value of N95,000; Honda Civic Saloon Car with market value of N170,000 was sold at N76,500; Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N300,000 was sold at N140,000; another Toyota Hilux (Accidental) with market value of N200,000 was sold at N96,000 while another Toyota Hilux (Grounded) with market value of N250,000 was sold at N115,000.

In the same vein, two units of Toyota Hilux which was at the time of inspection in the custody of Carbotage Consultant in Lagos put at N1 million market value, was sold at N470,000 each forced liquidation/auction value; Honda Civic put at N210,000 was sold at N95,000; Honda City put at N190,000 market value was sold at N80,000; among others.

Through its office in Abuja, a Toyota Hilux put at N500,000 market value was sold at N245,000; Toyota Avensis put at N300,000 market value was sold at N145,000; Toyota Corolla put at N300,000 market value was sold at N147,000; two units of Honda Civic put at N90,000 market value were sold at N30,000 each; among others.

Other lawmakers who spoke during the investigative hearing, demanded for documentary evidence of funds remitted into the CRF account as provided by extant provisions of the Procurement Act, Proceed of Crimes Act, and other known legislations or financial regulations.

While expressing surprise that most of the vehicles displayed in the document presented to the Ad-hoc Committee didn’t show that they are old or not in good condition, Hon. Ihonbvere said: “looking at them (pictures of vehicles captured in the documents), some of them are looking new,” adding that for Nigerians, a 13 year old Toyota Hilux is not old.”

Hon. Ihonbvere thereafter narrated how a former Edo State Governor engaged a female mechanic to fix some of the vehicles tagged as unserviceable vehicles and recovered over 100 vehicles while other spare parts were stored.

He explained that over 100 vehicles fixed by the female mechanic were deployed to various MDAs, thereby blocking financial leakages.

Hon. Ihonbvere specifically expressed concern over the rationale behind the placement of an advert on the 29th March, 2022 calling for a public auction of NIMASA vehicles and sale of all the vehicles on the 30th March, 2022 through forced liquidation/auction.

While alleging that the move “leaves us with the impression that it’s a pre-arrangement,” the Majority Leader argued that the process contravened the extant Public Procurement Act to dispose public assets within the duration of 24 hours.

Hon. Ihonbvere who disclosed that the Ad-hoc Committee is in custody of petitions against NIMASA that the vehicles were sold to some officials and staff of the Agency, maintained that the Auctioneers engaged by NIMASA were merely hired to rubber stamp the fictitious insider trading.


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