‘Senate Continued Probe Chasing Away Port Investors’ | Punch

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, International Freight Forwarders Association, Mr. Peter Obi, has condemned what he called incessant probe of companies by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, saying that the development is chasing away foreign investors doing business at the nation’s port.

Speaking during the National Executive Committee meeting of the association, Obi pointed out that most of the firms that brought their cargoes to Nigeria in the past had diverted them to ports of neighbouring countries because of the poor infrastructure and high cost of clearing goods at the Nigerian ports.

He said that the firms being subjected to probe in connection with alleged missing N30tn import and export revenue were the few that still kept faith in the country despite the challenges.

The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, while reacting to the threat by the Chairman, Joint Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to call for the arrest 30 chief executive officers of companies that failed to appear personally before the committee, described the threat as an embarrassment.

Jacobs pointed out that if the companies sent representatives to answer the summons, that should be enough for the committee to interrogate instead of insisting on their CEOs being present.

He said that it was unfortunate that investors were being subjected to such ridicule at a time when Nigeria was trying to woo more investors.

Jacobs also said thought consultation with the Customs, he had been reliably informed that there was no revenue leakage.

But Uzodinma insisted that some money was indeed missing, adding that some of the indicted firms had stopped denying and started refunding billions of naira to the Federal Government.

“As a result of this investigation, the banks, which are the authorised dealers in the export and import chain, have been making effort to remit everything collected by them to the Central Bank of Nigeria. We are doing this on a friendly note because we do not want to send a wrong signal to the market.

“Although more funds other than the N120bn I announced some time ago have been recovered, because we do not want to send wrong signal, we are restrained from speaking further on how much has been recovered so far.”