In a heated session, Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, rebuked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for disregarding two separate summons to appear before the committee. The committee’s primary mission is to scrutinize the disposal of public property from 2010 to 2022, uncover any alleged illegal auctions of public assets, and investigate the non-remittance of revenue into the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.
Last week, the committee issued a stern warning, threatening to use relevant sections of the Constitution to compel Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to participate in its proceedings if necessary.
Ihonvbere, who also holds the position of House leader, condemned what he described as “arrogance of power” displayed by the heads of MDAs. He insisted that the Nigeria Customs Service must appear before the panel and emphasized that the parliament would spare no effort to ensure compliance with its summons.
“We have written. We have published the summons in the papers. The summons carried a date when they must appear. And then they send me some innocuous letters, signed by one Deputy Comptroller General Finance and Admin and Technical Services, who feels too big even to come here in person. This kind of arrogance of power and indiscipline must be wiped out in this system. It cannot continue,” stated Ihonvbere.
He stressed that the committee was constitutionally empowered to ensure that government agencies funded by the National Assembly adhere to proper procedures. Ihonvbere made it clear that whether the Nigeria Customs Service liked it or not, they were obligated to comply with the committee’s requirements.
“I think what the customs is assuming is that this ad-hoc committee has a limitless life. Just like it, you import a vehicle. This is a time within which you must clear it before it goes into demurrage. And after some time they will take the necessary steps and even auction your vehicle no matter the type,” Ihonvbere explained.
He concluded by expressing his readiness to use the full extent of the law to ensure the Nigeria Customs Service’s appearance before the House and urged them to take the parliamentary invitation seriously.
The committee’s frustration arises from what they perceive as a lack of seriousness on the part of the customs service in responding to the summons issued by the House of Representatives.