Agents summon CBN, finance ministry over stalled $3.1bn e-Customs project

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Finance, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, the Chairman, CBN Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), the Controller General of Nigeria Customs Service, and the Managing Director of Adani Mega Systems Ltd over the stalled E-Customs project.

This followed the adoption of a motion on matters of urgent importance, moved by Leke Abejide (APC, Kogi) on Thursday.

The house mandated its committees on Customs & Excise, Finance, Banking and Currency to wade into the lingering dispute between the CBN committee on CISS and Adani Mega Systems limited which hindered the take-off of the project for years.

The Federal Executive Council on 2nd of September 2020 approved a 20-year Nigeria Customs Automation Scheme.

The project involves using technology to drive all processes and procedures in the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and would lead to exponential increments in productivity, returns and process management.

The E-Customs project has a value of $3.1 billion, but Nigeria will not spend a dime directly. The country will instead gain $176 billion returns over 20 years from the estimated expenditure granted to the concessionaire.

Presenting the motion, Abejide stated that the CBN Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS) had an agreement with Adani Mega Systems Ltd to engage the latter as Service Provider/Vendor for screening service infrastructure for the inspection of all inbound and outbound cargoes in Nigeria.

He said the CBN had in the letter of engagement dated 11th February, 2017, stated its statutory mandate to manage and supervise the project (as provided in Sections 13(1), 15(i), and 5 of Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act, and Pre-Shipment Inspection of Imports Act).

He said: “A Build, Operate, and Own Agreement between the Technical Committee on CISS (on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria) and Adani Mega Systems Ltd in relation to the provision of the scanning services infrastructures (scanners) required for all operations was sealed and a certificate of “NO OBJECTION” was granted by the BPP after evaluating the profile of the company.

“The level of engagement had reached the turning point whereby Adani Mega Systems Ltd had procured the necessary equipment to commence the E-Customs projects as provided for in the contract but since 13th July, 2017, the project had stalled without solution in sight, further causing tremendous revenue loss to the federal government which, according to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, had earlier appraised of having the potential of yielding up to $176 billion over the course of the 20-year concession period”.

The lawmaker however lamented that at the moment, Nigeria Customs Service remains in the analogue era of conducting 100% physical examination which in itself is a major cause of congestion to our ports and greater loss of revenue to our dear country.

He said: “The dispute between the two parties is at such a time of alarming rate at entry of undetected arms and ammunition into the country’s ports and border stations as a result of no functional scanners.

“The 2022 Budget provided for N3.9 trillion for debt servicing alone, and this is aside repayment of principal.

“If the E-Customs is allowed to take off by settling the issues between the FGN and Adani, the issue of borrowing will be reduced to the barest minimum, if not eradicated”.

Abejide added that the Nigeria Customs Service would be able to generate twice, if not thrice, of what is currently being generated.

The house mandated the committees to submit their report in four (4) weeks.

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