Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali has requested for the files of serving Customs officers found to have been involved in corrupt practices in the past with a view to determining their fate over the next few days.
Ali, who formally resumed duties as the new Customs boss on Thursday said that President Muhammadu Buhari gave him a three-point mandate to reform, restructure and boost Customs revenue.
“The mandate he has given me are three basic things: go to Customs, reform Customs, restructure Customs and increase the revenue generation, simple. I don’t think that is ambiguous, I don’t think that is cumbersome. It is precise and I believe that is what all of you are here to do,” Ali told Customs officers in Abuja on Thursday.
In fulfilling the mandate, It is gathered that Ali, over the weekend, in addition to demanding for the files of top officers of the NCS especially those from the ranks of Comptrollers and above, also reportedly enlisted the support of the Department for State Security (DSS) to investigate top Customs officers especially Customs Area Controllers, Assistant Comptroller-Generals and Deputy Comptroller-Generals to track down their wealth and property across the country.
“It goes beyond sacking them. Many of them will forfeit illegally acquired property to government in addition to losing their jobs. Some will also be prosecuted. It is the beginning of a new era in Customs. It can no longer be business as usual,” a source at the Presidency said.
The source said President Buhari was particularly concerned about high level of corrupt in the NCS and the perception that “Customs is one of the most corrupt agencies in the country”.
It was also gathered that a mass purge is imminent in the Service as part of efforts to carry out the President’s directive.
It was also gathered that the past Customs Comptroller-General, Dikko Abdullahi’s tenure will be probed with a view to recovering lost revenue.
Ali has also reportedly directed the implementation of zero tolerance for smuggling, underdeclaration and Customs duty evasion.
“Any importer or agent found culpable for any of these acts going forward will be prosecuted. No more slap on the wrist as it used to happen in the past,” a Customs officer who did not want his name in print said.
By Pita Ochai