Nigeria Customs, Stakeholders Bicker over N1.6bn Recruitment Scandal

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.)

Eromosele Abiodun

The approval of N1.6 billion to recruit 3,200 job seekers in the ongoing employment exercise by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has continued to set stakeholders and the Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) against each other.
Owing to this, the stakeholders are calling for an immediate investigation into the allegation.

The stakeholders, who reacted angrily to the development called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to wade into the matter.

The Vice Chairman of Senate Committee on Customs, Senator Ade Fadahunsi had accused Ali of paying a whopping sum of N1.6 billion to a consultant for the recruitment of 3,200 personnel into the service.

Fadahunsi, who is a retired Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs and current Sentaor representing Osun East Senatorial District had said: “The CG wants to recruit 3,200 persons and he paid N1.6 billion to a consultant to recruit 3,200 persons. The money is not for training but to just recruit them.
“I asked him if the Nigerian Army ever used consultants to recruit personnel and he said no. He said Customs officers are corrupt and he is bringing in a consultant to recruit 3,200 persons and he will pay the firm N1.6 billion.

“Are you recruiting five million people? The N1.6 billion is even in the budget and that is one of the reasons the budget was being queried by the leadership of the Senate.”
Speaking to THISDAY on the matter, the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Agents, (NCMDCLA), Lucky Amiwero called for a public hearing on the allegation.

“The man who made that allegation is number two in a Senate Committee that oversights the Customs, so there should be a public hearing on the matter as well as a thorough investigation by concerned agencies of government.

“Don’t let’s forget that Senator Fadahunsi served in the Customs for years and rose through the ranks to the position of a DCG, so he might have information that we might not have. Therefore, the issue should be subjected to thorough investigation.”

Also speaking to newsmen on the issue, the former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Olayiwola Shittu urged agencies of government with forensic capabilities to investigate the allegation.

According to him, “This is an allegation coming from the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, who retired as DCG)), so this kind of allegation should not be thrown under the carpet.

“When people that ought to know about issues speak out on fraudulent activities, then the authorities need to do the needful and investigate it properly. We cannot say because the Customs CG is always harping on the fight against corruption, so such allegation should not be investigated. We are talking about activities of Customs, which always involves huge sums of public funds.”

Also, the Vice President of ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto, said such an allegation is too weighty to be discarded.

“The person that made that allegation is not an ordinary Nigerian, he is a Senator who retired as a DCG from the NCS. Currently, he is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, so I don’t want to believe that he will just open his mouth to speak on such sensitive issues when there is nothing.”
However, in a statement, Spokesman of the NCS, Joseph Attah, said the N1.6 billion covers the recruitment and training, which will last for six months, and includes the feeding of the 3,200 trainees.

“The feeding will cost N2,000 per trainee/day (N6.4 million/day and N192 million/month), which is about N1.152 billion for the 3,200 persons for the six-month training at the Customs Training College, Ikeja.

“The process of recruitment and the technical partners has a budget of about N300 million. We have not even talked about T-shirt, canvas, logistics, pay for resource persons and bonus for teachers (which are all part of the figure). So, dropping the figure as recruitment is misleading,” he said.