Reps Furious Over Customs’ Failure to Appear Before Panel

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the sale and disposal of government assets, was furious, on Tuesday, over the failure of the Nigeria Customs Service to appear before it.

Chairman of the committee, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, while speaking at the resumed hearing of the panel, knocked the NCS for failing to appear before the committee, after it had been summoned on two different occasions.

The panel, which is vested with the task of probing the disposal of public property from 2010 to 2022 and unravelling alleged illegal auctioning of public property and non-remittance of revenue realised into the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation, had last week threatened to invoke relevant sections of the Constitution to compel ministries, departments, and agencies to appear before it if need be.

Ihonvbere, who is also the leader of the House, condemned what he described as “arrogance of power” by the head of MDAs, and insisted that the customs must appear before the panel, noting that the parliament would stop at nothing to ensure that the service honoured its summon.

“We have written. We have published the summons in the papers. The summon carried a date when they must appear. And then they send me some innocuous letters, signed by one Deputy Comptroller General Finance and Admin and Technical Services, who feels too big even come here in person. This kind of arrogance of power and indiscipline must be wiped out in this system. It cannot continue.

“And we are empowered by the constitution to make sure that agencies of government funded by the National Assembly do the right thing. And whether the customs like it or not, they must do the right thing.

“I think what the customs is assuming is that this ad-hoc committee has a limitless life. Just like it, you import a vehicle. This is a time within which you must clear it before it goes into demurrage. And after some time they will take the necessary steps and even auction your vehicle no matter the type.

“So, I think it is irresponsible of the Nigerian customer once again to take the invitation by this House lightly. They think this is a joke. I want to assure them, that I am ready to go the entire length of the law with the Nigerian custom. They must appear before the House,” he stated.