WHY Are Senators at War with Nigeria Custom Service?

FEMI OWOEYE

In a way, the Nigerian upper legislative chamber has declared war against the Nigerian Custom Service. The legislators have mandated the Comptroller General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, to appear before it on the 15th of March, in an official uniform as a custom officer, which is not likely to happen.

Col. Ali as well as senator know that he is a political appointee and not a career custom officer. A custom investigator in a way, Ali is.

Of course, the nation’s legislators have the right to request anyone to appear before it, even the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal republic of Nigeria. So they have the right to invite Ali, more so as they are clinging onto matter of national interest.

Really?

Let’s look the matter “holistically”, sorry to borrow our legislators’ current vocabulary. What do senators regard as matters of public interest?  Recently, the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) asked those, who had smuggled vehicles into the country, got them registered illegally, to pay the right duties on them, keep using their smuggled vehicles and sin no more. To the senate, that is against national interest? Really?

No, I don’t think our honourable senators could be that naïve. I think I know what is against the people’s interest in the NCS’s plan. It is a plan to, after the ultimatum deadline, cordon round any building inside which smuggled vehicles are kept.

Ali’s statement while being interviewed  on TVC during the week would even create more worries for those stockpiling smuggled vehicles, possibly with other dangerous contents like weapons in their mansions.

“If we suspect that smuggled items are taken into your house, we have the right to cordone that house and go in to search,” Ali said. Yes, yes,yes. That’s really against the people’s interest. Why not? After all senators are representatives of people’s senatorial districts. So, what if certain senators own several expensive vehicles in their compounds, over which no duties were paid? Could it be true that certain senators have custom agents, who help them to smuggle expensive vehicles into the country? If that is true, I would be worried and afraid, if I were in their shoes.

I de laugh ooo.

On a very serious note, if anyone is fighting against the interest of the nation, it is Nigerian senators. A typical proof is that a number of their actions have been against the Nation’s auto industry.

Yes, the fact that they were voted into power by the people does not automatically mean that every action they take represents the interest of the people. It is against the interest of the people for them to have acquired for their official use imported vehicles equivalent of which could be made or assembled in Nigeria by a Nigerian auto plant with young Nigerians in employment.

What about this? Is it in the interest of the people for certain criminals to smuggled vehicles into the country without paying any duties on them?

That is cheating, denying the entire nation of revenue needed to run the nation’s government, pay salaries of the military, civil servants, the police and build infrastructures. To the senators, that seems to be alright. But to sane Nigerians, it is not. Now, Nigerian custom service decides to go after the smugglers and smuggled cars.

What is wrong in that? They requested those who failed to pay duties on their vehicles to do so. Is that against the interest of the citizens? I don’t think so. Members of the nation’s upper legislative chambers should tell Nigerians what they are afraid of.

Seriously, they could as well have asked the Inspector general of the Police to appear before them to explain why the police have been going after car robbers, recovering stolen vehicles. Yes.

Femi Owoeye, Editor-in-chief, Motoring World International

If anyone needs to appear somewhere, I mean before a panel of judges, it is the senators. The Nigerian gazette, forbidden government functionaries from purchasing imported vehicles equivalent of which are assembled or manufactured in Nigeria, is still in place.

Unfortunately, it has not crossed their mind to repeal it. So the senators committed illegality.

Before now, the judiciary should have got the senators involved prosecuted, got those cars forfeited to government and possibly get each and every one of them sentenced for economic sabotage.

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