culled from Thisday Newspaper
Strong indications have emerged that the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) will penalise more of its personnel over the $13, 000 bribe and other offences allegedly perpetrated by some men and officers in the service. THISDAY checks revealed that the scam, which has already led to the sanction of 23 senior officers, is expected to consume more personnel in the top echelon as the panel set up by the Customs High Command continues investigations into the matter. Sources close to the panel said the decision to apprehend more officers connected to the scandal came to the fore when it was discovered that the 23 officers involved did not act alone. It was gathered that the top echelon of the service, especially Comptrollers, Assistant Comptroller General of Customs (AIG), and Deputy Comptroller General of Customs (DCG) played significant roles in encouraging the erring officers.
According to one of the sources, there is no way any officer in the international land border, seaport or airport will collect $13, 000 from a traveller or release seized cargo without the approval of a superior officer. “That is why I am telling you that at the end of this investigation, many more heads would roll,” the source said. The Customs High Command had indicted 23 officers over their alleged roles in various infractions. NCS had in a statement issued in Abuja said the officers were sanctioned for various offenses in the first two months of 2015. Giving a breakdown of the offences committed by the personnel, 12 of the officers were suspended from service pending the outcome of investigations while 11 others are currently facing investigative panels set up by the Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Inde
Abdullahi. “Among those suspended are three Assistant Superintendent of Customs (ASC) implicated in a case of extortion at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja. The officers attached to the Currency Declaration Desk at the airport got into trouble for allegedly extorting the sum of $13,000 during the outward clearance of a passenger on Emirates airline flight. Two others, also Assistant Superintendent serving in Seme Command are suspended from Customs for alleged Rape, an offense said to have been committed in Badagry area of Lagos”, NCS said.
Abdullahi was quoted in the statement expressing regrets over the alleged involvement of young officers recently recruited into the Service in various illegal acts. Describing it as “worrisome”, the NCS boss warned that agency would not tolerate such officers, even as he noted that the machinery for investigations in the service will be strengthened to punish erring officers. According to the statement, mid level management officers serving in the ports were also affected in the recent action as five Assistant Comptrollers of Customs (ACC) serving in Tin Can Island Port are among those suspended from service for improper release of seizures. Others, including a Deputy Comptroller serving in Apapa port, have appeared before the investigative panel for negligence and improper examination of containers. The outstanding six officers were made to appear before the same panel for offences ranging from hacking of passwords, falsification of academics certificates, negligence and general indiscipline. Abdullahi said the service would go after officers operating illegal check points, and acknowledged persistent complaints received on some route particularly around Kogi, Ondo and Edo States. The NCS boss assured motorists that special units of his office would conduct special surveillance operation to apprehend the culprit. He warned that officers operating such illegal check points would be severely punished to serve as deterrence to other men and officers who might want to toe their line of action.