The Senate Joint Committee on Customs and Marine Transport investigating alleged N30 trillion revenue leakage in the import and export chain on Tuesday began quizzing companies involved in the processes.
Addressing some of the firms invited at the Tuesday session in Abuja, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, said the committee would do everything to recover the funds.
Uzodinma said over 60 companies were being investigated in connection with the sleaze, adding that concerned firms would be invited in batches to the committee’s sessions.
Firms present at the meeting were CCEC Nigeria Limited, China Export Limited, CFAO Group, Chi Limited, Bhojsons Limited, Bharat Ventures Limited and Boulos Group.
Others were African Wire and Allied Limited, Admiral Overseas Nigeria Limited, CKS International Limited, Abyem-Diva International Limited and Aarti Steel Nigeria Limited.
Decrying the level of complicity in the import and export value chain in the country, Uzodinma said the National Assembly would ensure that measures were taken to stop the corruption in the country.
He said: “This is a continuation of the investigation that is ongoing and we have now started interfacing with the various companies that are directly involved in the infractions that we identified in the course of our investigation.
“Most of the companies have no evidence to show that our position is not correct.
“So, it is our hope that working together, whether you are from the executive arm, judiciary or the legislature, we must acknowledge the need for us to protect our national interest.
“We must grow this economy.
“Over the years we over-relied on oil revenue.
“The only way to rescue the economy from the present state is to expand our sources of income by strengthening the non-oil revenue earnings.
“The companies have pleaded to come back next Tuesday and then we will invite the Nigerian Customs Service to issue necessary demand notice to all established cases.
“Then the companies will make payments into the Federation Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
On why the investigation had lingered for long, Uzodinma said it was in different stages.
He said the committee had interfaced with commercial banks, collecting banks and the various agencies of government.
According to him, the meeting with the companies was the first time and it won’t be out of place to give them one week to get back to the committee.
He added: “We will do this to satisfy the doctrine of fair hearing and if there is anything they have to say to the contrary, they will have the opportunity to defend themselves.
“We do hope that after the session, government will be able to earn more money.”
The chairman said that with the success achieved so far, the committee would do its best to bring the investigation to conclusion in no distant time.
He said that the committee had already identified no fewer than 60 companies whose infractions were within the range of N10 billion and above.
On insinuations that the committee refused to work on the budget of the Nigeria Ports Authority, the lawmaker said it was a non-issue.
Uzodinma said: “I don’t want to join issues on the pages of newspapers discussing my official assignment.
“This is a joint committee mandated by Senate to investigate revenue leakages and so far we have done very well.
“All I can say is that the management of the NPA has been confronted with some allegations and they are duty bound to defend them and say what they know.
“What they don’t know, they should say they don’t know.”