Customs waivers, concessions by Buhari cost Nigeria N1.3trn in 2023

Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has revealed that it lost N1.3 trillion in 2023 due to waivers and concessions that former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration granted to investors.

The Customs also said it was not privy to details of the Custom’s $3.2bn modernisation project.

The NCS Comptroller-General, Adewale Adeniyi, disclosed this at the National Assembly on Wednesday, November 15.

He was represented by the Deputy-Comptroller General, Mba Musa, at a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committees to scrutinise the 2024–2026 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy.

At the hearing, the senators inquired from the  Comptroller General about the details of the agreement signed by the Federal Government on the modernisation of Nigeria Customs.

The Federal Executive Council had in April 2023 approved the Nigeria Customs Service modernisation project, also known as e-customs, despite a court order restraining the government from going ahead with the initiative.

Buhari’s administration specifically approved implementing the Customs modernisation project to a concessionaire.

The concessionaire was granted to Bergman Securities Consultant and Suppliers Limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) as the lead financier, and Huawei Technologies was named as the lead technical service provider.

However, stakeholders knocked the project, saying it would mortgage the Customs’ future and was inimical to national security.

Speaking on the modernisation project before the Senate joint panel, Mba said, “We are not privy to details of modernisation agreement of the Nigeria Customs Modernisation Project.”

He also declared that the Customs lost of N1.3 trillion in 2023 due to waivers and concessions the Buhari’s administration granted to investors.

He explained that “NCS would have generated more revenue to the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund in 2023 if not for the waivers and concessions arrangements.”

Not comfortable with the arrangement, the Chairman of the Joint Committee, Sani Musa, said the Senate would commence an investigation into granting of waivers and concesioning in the country.