Customs To Settle Halting Of $3.2 Billion e-Customs Project Implementation in court.Adunni Adetola
A Federal High Court in Abuja, at the weekend, ordered the federal government to halt the implementation of the e-Customs allegedly executed by its agents on May 30, 2022.
The Nigeria Customs Service and a consortium, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, had in May this year, signed a concession agreement worth $3.2bn to digitalise operations of the border security and revenue collection outfit.
The Federal Government expects to generate over $176 billion from the deal.
But in a restraining order issued on Friday by Justice Inyang Ekwo, said the order shall last till the hearing and the determination of a suit brought against the Federal Government by two aggrieved companies.
The two aggrieved companies are E-Customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited.
They have jointly challenged the alleged unlawful and fraudulent concession of the e-custom project to African Finance Corporation.
But the National Public Relations Officer of the Service, DC Timi Bomodi, said the service would definitely appeal the order.
Bomodi who spoke to our Correspondent on phone on the issue said a team of customs lawyer are already studying the order.
He said: “The service will definitely appeal the order. The service has competent lawyers and they are currently studying the order.
The Modernization project is in the interest of the nation. The aggrieved parties actually joined the service in the law suit and as a law abiding service, we will challenge it in court.”
Bomodi who dismissed allegations which claimed that the entire operations of the Nigeria Customs Service have been seeded to a Chinese firm, said those behind the rumour are enemies of development.
Recalled that an agreement was entered into by the Service, on behalf of the Federal Government, and representatives of technical and financial partners in the deal which, include African Finance Corporation and Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of China-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd was entered into in May.
The Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd.), in his remarks after the documents were signed, stated that Nigeria was setting a pace that other African countries were looking forward to follow.
Ali partly said, “The journey has been long and tortuous, but we thank God that today we have signed the dotted lines. Today, we are happy to say that in Nigeria, we are going to be fully electronic, digitised and modernised. The success of this project will put Nigeria on the map.
“This project is very important in the sense that it has so many benefits that are lined up. The first benefit, which is tangible, is the fact that we are going to garner for this country, $3.5 billion.
“To the Nigeria Customs, this is going to change the entire business process. It is going to put the Customs on the best part in terms of doing the business. It would remove all arbitrariness and human mistakes.
“It is a process that would ease the cost of doing business. It is a process that would also assist those of us who were given the task to manage with a simpler process of managing and monitoring.”