Customs fire four deputy comptrollers, 25 other senior officers

Less than a week after sacking 17 junior officers, the Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday announced the dismissal of 29 senior officers, including four deputy comptrollers and five assistant comptrollers.

Others affected in the latest purge are seven chief superintendents and four superintendents of customs. Ten other officers were retired from the service.

According to a statement signed by the Customs’ Deputy Comptroller/Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, the 29 senior officers were sacked for various acts of gross misconduct.

He said the dismissed senior officers were among the 44 officers who were punished for actions capable of compromising national economy and security.

The officers affected were said to have been involved in unlawful acts such as improper examination and release of containers without proper documentation and payment of duties; illegal release of goods before the arrival of vessels; fraudulent sale of seized items; and use of fake certificates and bribery to secure auctioned goods or release prohibited items.

The statement explained, “All the officers were served with queries indicating the offences committed before they made appearances before the Special Investigation Committee.

“The committee’s recommendation was discussed and approved by the Customs management. The recommendation was thereafter referred to the Presidency for ratification in the absence of a substantive Board of the Nigeria Customs Service. All the officers affected in the exercise have been communicated accordingly.

“The comptroller-general warned officers that punitive sanctions will continue to be used to discipline officers who refuse to embrace change.”

The NCS had said the 17 junior officers earlier dismissed committed offences ranging from drug addiction to certificate forgery, theft and absence from duty.

Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (retd), has called for the reduction in the number of auto assembly plants given licences to operate in Nigeria through mergers and consolidation.

Ali’s view, which was presented at a forum in Lagos organised by the Automotive and Allied Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, differed sharply from the position of the National Automotive Design and Development Council.

“The NCS is of the opinion that 44 assembly plants are too ambitious and the reality is that the economy will not be able to sustain them,”the Customs boss said.

But the Director, NADDC, Dr. Lukman Mahmud, disagreed with Ali on the issue, stressing that the licensing of the auto assembly plants followed due process.

According to him, the high number of automakers showing interest in the venture was an indication of their confidence in the Nigerian economy, adding that the investors should be encouraged and supported.

Mahmud and other speakers at the event, including Prof.Okey Ikeduru of the Arizona State University, United States; and Dr. Andrew Nevin of PricewaterhouseCoopers, stressed the need for regular review of the nation’s auto policy and patronage of locally assembled vehicles by the government and private firms as well as individuals in order to ensure the success of the programme.