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Audit Query: Customs was broke – Ali explains non redemption of employees’ 5% pension

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Poor standard of education worsening insecurity in Nigeria – Senate President

…Says Buhari saved the Service via inclusion in CSS***

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Retd. Col.  Hameed Ali on Thursday, revealed that Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was hitherto broke, but for President Muhammadu Buhari’s service inclusion in the Consolidated Salary Structure (CSS) regime, there would have been serious financial challenges by now.

Ali stated this in Abuja, while offering explanation to the 2015 audit report which generated a query over NCS non remittance of five per cent pension redemption bond, of its employees, despite the boasts of  meeting and beating annual revenue targets.

According to him, when he took over as the Head of Customs, the agency depended on bailout to carry out its operations, as a result of paucity of fund.

Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd)

 

He said the paucity of fund to the service explained why the service could not remit the five per cent pension redemption bond of its employees.

Ali emphasised that the seven per cent collection costs which the NCS deducted from revenue generated had not been enough to settle the personnel costs of staff members; and posited that not until President Muhammadu Buhari approved its inclusion in the Consolidated Salary Structure (CSS), was the NCS able to offset some of its financial commitments.

The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAGF) had in its 2015 audit report of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), presented Mr Anthony Ayine to senate raised a query to NCS as follows:

“On non compliance to provision of Pension Act 2014 retirement benefit redemption bond.

“During the examination of retirement pension redemption fund, it was also noted that the Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service were not contributing five cent monthly wage bill of their employees’ fund contrarily to section 39 sub section 2.

“These two organisations ought to contribute five per cent monthly wage bill of their employees since their personnel cost does not fall part of the normal budget.

“The non contribution by these organisations is in violation of the Pension Reform Act. 2014,” Ayine said.

The query arose during the public hearing of the 2015 audited accounts of federal government agencies organised by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts

Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP- Edo) raised a concern over the failure of NCS to remit five per cent retirement bond of its employees as indicated in the audit report of 2015.

He said the refusal of the Customs leadership to abide by the constitutional provisions of the Pension Act, with regard to the pension of personnel simply implied that the retirees of the service had not been receiving their pensions.

Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP- Edo)

Also speaking, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara), said that the money should have been remitted to the National Pension Commission (PenCom) given the payment of staff monthly salary by NCS.

Oloriegbe lamented that a revenue generating agency such as NCS should have no reason to fail to remit the five per cent pension retirement bond of staff wages to PenCom.

He urged NCS authority to look for where to raise money to remit the five per cent to PenCom.

But in his response to the query, the Customs Comptroller-General , Retd. Col.  Hameed Ali, explained that the NCS had been facing the challenge of insufficient fund.

He said the paucity of fund to the service explained why the service could not remit the five per cent pension redemption bond of its employees.

Ali said that the seven per cent collection costs which the NCS deducted from revenue generated had not been enough to settle the personnel costs of staff members, hence, Service dependent on bailout to carry out its operations.

He explained that while the fund for salary of staff members was being deducted directly from the seven per cent commission, that of pension redemption bond was not directly deducted.

He, however, assured the senate that with the inclusion of Customs into the CSS of the federal government, the service would be able to commence remittances of backlog of the five per cent to PenCom.

He stressed that it would not be wise to remove five per cent from the seven per cent commission and pay as pension, given that the remaining two per cent would not be enough to pay workers salary.

Responding also to the query of non remittances of its revenue collections by the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), the Customs boss expressed surprise over the query.

He said he was just getting to hear of the query given that NCS collections and remittances had been automated since 2015, hence the issue of under remittances could not have arisen.

On the N4.5 billion loan to the Customs, which was given to them as loan from the N37 billion special fund for local production of rice, he said he was just hearing about the loan for the first time.

Also read:  Customs Comptroller-General to sack officers living above earnings

Although he said it could be part of the bailout out fund given to NCS by the government he, however, insisted that the NCS did not have any record of any loan from anybody.

However, in a swift reaction to the CGC’s explanation, an industry watcher has tasked newsmen to seek further clarification on Ali’s position, saying the explanation was confusing.

“Is the CGC confusing the 5 percent of salary package with a 5 percent of the entire pool of its 7 percent collection?”, one importer asked, noting that the Customs Service had not been genuinely forthcoming in the area of corporate welfare in recent times, despite consistently exceeding annual revenue targets.

“Customs earned far less under his predecessor (Dikko Inde Abdullahi), yet built barracks, quarters, rehabilitated its personnel caught in drug abuse and created the mind blowing edifice in Gwagwalada called Regional Customs Training Centre! What indelible footprint is the present management striving to leave behind?”, he further asked, speaking on conditions of anonymity.

 

Maritime

Yusuf Presents Letter Of Appointment To Emir Sunusi

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Yusuf Presents Letter Of Appointment To Emir Sunusi

A focal point of Ganduje’s administration suffered a hiccup on Friday, as Ganduje’s successor, and present Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, presented the letter of appointment to Sunusi Lamido Sunusi, as the 16th Emir of Kano.

The development is sequel to the signing into law of the amended Kano State Emirate Council Law by the governor on Thursday.

“Sunusi is a victim of the immediate past administration, who is now being restored to his rightful position to lead the people”.

The amended law abolished the five Emirate Councils and sacked the emirs appointed by former governor Abdullahi Ganduje in 2019, paving the way for the re-enthronement of Sunusi.

While presenting the letter, Yusuf said, “Sunusi is a victim of the immediate past administration, who is now being restored to his rightful position to lead the people”.

The ceremony was graced by members of the Kano Emirate Council, district heads and title holders.

It also marked a new chapter in the history of the Kano Emirate with the re-enthronement of Sunusi, who was deposed in 2020 by the Ganduje administration. 

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NCS Summit Calls Gender Imbalance A Threat To Nigeria’s Blue Economy

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NCS Summit Calls Gender Imbalance A Threat To Nigeria's Blue Economy

 The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) has stated that the lofty potential of the Nigerian blue economy will not be realised without the active participation of women in the sector, especially at the managerial level.

The NCS President, Mr Aminu Umar said this at a summit organised by the chamber on Thursday in Lagos.

The event had the theme: “Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety.”

Umar was represented at the conference by a Governing Board member of NCS and Principal Partner, Jean Chiazor and Partners, Mrs. Jean Chiazor Anishere (SAN).

“The maritime sector is a cornerstone of global trade and economic growth. 

“There are numerous benefits accruable from the maritime industry but these benefits can’t be realised without active women participation, especially in leadership roles,” the NCS president said.

The NCS president expressed delight and gratitude to the special guests and speakers, including the President of WISTA International, Mrs. Elpiniki Petraki, the Managing Director of NLNG Ship Management Ltd., Mr Abdul-Kadir Ahmed, the Executive Secretary, WISTA International, Mrs Jemilat Mahamah, among others.

Aminu-Umar-Sadiq

Also, the President of WISTA International, Petraki, stressed that beyond taking pride in the accomplishment of having the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) dedicate a day for women in maritime, the event should be a platform to strategise for increased women participation across all facets of the maritime sector. 

Petraki noted that the challenges confronting women in the industry were similar across frontiers and national boundaries, stating that gender balance remained a setback globally.

“Only 29 per cent of the entire maritime workforce globally are women, but the states drop to 24 per cent for women engaged in maritime administration. 

“Sadly, in seafaring, the ratio is less than 2 per cent for women and this profession has over 1.8 million people,” the WISTA International president said. 

She, however, encouraged Nigerian women in maritime and other industry stakeholders to participate in the ongoing IMO/ WISTA maritime survey, to get the up-to-date representation of women in the sector.

According to her, the survey which runs till December 2024, will be strategic in promoting diversity and women’s inclusion in the maritime sector.

Jean Chiazor Anishere

Meanwhile, during one of the panel sessions, a Maritime Psychotherapist, who also experienced the ordeals of seafaring, Mrs. Pam Kem, harped on the need to increase awareness of psychological safety in the maritime industry.

Kem said female seafarers were exposed to varying psychological challenges, having experienced storms, turbulence, violence, fire outbreaks and other vices, leaving adverse effects on their behaviours.

 “Physiological safety has been a concept known in most sectors for a long time, but I’m happy to see it come into play in the maritime space.

” However, if we have strong and inclusive leadership teams at the top level like captains and chief engineers, the awareness trickles down to other workers in the rank and file,” Kem said.

 The Director General of NCS, Mrs Vivian Chimezie-Azubuike, stated that the programme was the 3rd edition by NCS, organised as part of activities to commemorate the 2024 International Day for Women in Maritime.

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NHIA: Customs, Songhai Health Trust Collaborate, for Officers’ Effective Healthcare Delivery

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NHIA: Customs, Songhai Health Trust Collaborate, for Officers' Effective Healthcare Delivery

…Flags-off Sensitisation Programme at the Customs Service Headquarters in Abuja

The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday, 20 May 2024 flagged off a sensitisation programme with Songhai Health Trust to sensitise officers on the benefits of accessing the National Health Insurance Scheme. 

In a flag-off Sensitisation Programme with the National Health Insurance Authority and Songhai Health Trust Ltd at the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters in Abuja, the Comptroller-General of Customs, represented by the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs in Charge of Human Resource Development, Greg Itotoh, highlighted that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is a means of offering officers high-quality healthcare.

The CGC, while speaking, outlined that the sensitisation is to enlighten officers on how best to derive maximum benefits from the services provided by the Songhai Health Trust. 

“This is a way of providing quality health care services to officers that are affordable and stress-free.  It is an insurance program that NCS makes mandatory contributions.

“This is the reason why we want every officer to key into it and make best use of the incentives provided by the government because whether we make use of it or not, Nigeria Customs Service pays, and that is why we don’t want to be wasting that money” he stated. 

He further stated that the team of medical units of the NCS would go around different zones, commands and other customs formations to sensitise officers on the scheme’s benefits. 

Meanwhile, the Comptroller of Customs (Pharmacy), Abdulkadir Mohammed, who is also the Desk Officer NHIA, said it is a program introduced by the government for the health care of citizens, and it is designed to pull resources for appropriate health care delivery. 

Furthermore, Deputy Manager Operations of the Songhai  Health Trust, Dr Rotimi Anlemi, while speaking, outlined how the scheme operates, educating officers on the benefits of the scheme.

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