House Probes Missing N14.8bn in Customs, Summons CBN Gov, BPP

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has summoned the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, over the missing 14.8 billion in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as contained in the query raised by the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) in the 2013 financial year.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke, also directed that the CBN governor appear before it on Wednesday with the statement of accounts of the NCS in the period under review with a view to tracking down the missing money.

The committee gave the directive when the Comptroller-General of NCS, Hameed Ali, appear before it yesterday in Abuja.

Ali, who was represented by Comptroller S.I Ibrahim, stunned the Committee when he declared that the NCS has no audited accounts as there was no approval for the engagement of external auditors from the BPP.

According to him, “ I want to tell this Committee that as we speak, the Service has no audited accounts because we have no approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to engage external auditors.

“We just got this approval recently and the external auditors just sent a draft copy on the 2013 financial year to us just last week. We wrote several letters to the BPP on this until we got the nod, so it is not our own making.”

Ibrahim assured the committee that Service was ready to come forward before the Committee with all relevant documents.

He also told the Committee that prior to the introduction of the Treasury of Single Accounts (TSA), 28 commercial banks were collecting revenues for the Service.

The Committee, therefore, summoned the officials of the BPP to appear before it on Wednesday to respond to the claims of the NCS.

The Committee also ordered the NCS boss to produce before it on Wednesday three former account officers with the Service on another audit query of N28million said to have expended on a training programme for personnel at the NCS premises in Gwagwalada, during which over N1million was paid out to rent a hall.

Oke stated that “it will be in the interest of the Customs boss to produce the affected officers, serving or retired, before this Committee to tell us all we need to know about the expenditure or should be ready to refund the amount to the coffers of the federal government.