OrderPaperToday– After a series of failure to honour the invitation of the Senate to answer queries raised in a report by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, the comptroller general of Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) Hameed Ali, has finally appeared before the lawmakers to defend allegations against his agency.
Ali explained to the committee, in response to a 2015 financial report from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, that the non-compliance of his agency to the Pension Reform Act was due to paucity of funds.
The report he was responding to reads: “The Nigerian Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service were not contributing five percent monthly wage of their employees to the fund contrary to section 39 (2). These two organisations ought to contribute five percent monthly wage bill of their employees since their personnel cost does not come out of the normal budget because of the seven per cent and four per cent cost of collection of NCS and FIRS respectively.
“The accountant general is required to: Invite the investment ledgers maintained for the fund, explain the reason for the NCS and FIRS non compliance with the Pension Reform Act and sanction the organisation above for not complying with the Pension Reform Act, 2014 in accordance to section 85 of the Act.”
The accountant general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, had, in a previous meeting where the CG of Customs was absent, explained that the agency’s non compliance to contributory pension is as a result of insufficient funds.
Ali explained, “The seven percent cost of collection is what we use to pay personnel cost. So, if we take seven per cent and then take five percent and pay him… when I came into Customs in 2015, the government had to keep giving us subventions to intervention funds in order to make up the payment of our officers and that continued up until recently when part of CISS was given to us to augment our payment. I always sort for payment of our salaries. What the accountant general said is the true situation.
“Now that we have the CISS and pay every emolument our officers are supposed to get, then we can take five percent and begin to pay.”
Customs disowns accountant general over N28 billion remittance to federation account
Ali, while speaking on the differentials in funds remitted to the federation account in 2015, disowned the amount given by the accountant general of the federation, Ahmed Idris.
The auditor-general of the federation, Anthony Ayine, had, in his financial statement for 2015, asked Idris to explain the differentials in the amount remitted by the Customs Service and the figures contained in his own records.
According to the audited report, Customs remitted N185 billion but in the chief accountant’s document, the sum of N157 billion was remitted by the NCS.
Ali noted that the query in question was strange to the service because the mode of Customs collections are purely automated.
“For anybody to pointing at us; then there is a problem,” he said.
The accountant-general then proceeded to give a new explanation that the N28 billion was for ECOWAS stabilisation fund for 2015.
The panel was, however, not satisfied with his response as there was no documentary evidence to back up his claim.