By Tony Akowe, Abuja
The House of Representatives has said lack of scanners at the nation’s ports has exposed the country to importation of illegal arms and ammunition.
The situation has also compromised the nation’s security, the lawmakers said.
Chairman of the Technical Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Abejide, who stated this when he led other members of the committee on an oversight of Customs formations in Zone C of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Port Harcourt, decried the absence of functional scanners at NCS formations across the country.
Abejide said the country has been exposed to possible importation of illegal goods, including arms and ammunition, and had been losing huge resources that should have accrued to the government.
The lawmaker expressed concern that the scanners bought for the NCS were abandoned for years, after they were taken from the companies that installed them and given to another company that lacked the technical capacity to handle the equipment.
He promised that the House would carry out a comprehensive investigation into the abandonment of the scanners at various NCS formations across the country.
Members of the committee expressed shock over the long years of abandonment of the multi-million dollars scanners and insisted that even though there was need to provide more scanners for the NCS, there was also the need to outsource the service.
The members wondered why the scanners were taken away from the company that installed them and given to another company that lacked the capacity to handle them.
Abejide said there was need to declare an emergency on the roads leading to the ports in the zone, adding that if nothing urgent was done on the roads, the situation at Apapa ports in Lagos could also happen throughout the zone.
The lawmaker said the committee would work closely with the leadership of the NCS to remove those he called quack agents operating in the nation’s ports.
According to him, many of such agents were operating without identifiable office.
Controller of the Onne Area Command of the NCS, Auwal Mohamed, told the delegation that the zone generated about $136 million from export between 2019 and 2020.
He said poor access roads to the port as well as poor road network in other parts of the country were hampering exports from the port.
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