Anti-graft war: Customs CG, top officers to declare assets

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Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the agency’s employees are to declare their assets as the Federal Government widens the scope of its anti-corruption war.

It was learnt that asset declaration covers all cadres of staff in the Service.

The declared assets will be verified by any agency mandated by the government to do so.

The date for the commencement of asset declaration by customs officers has not been fixed. But, officers will disclose their assets under the same law applicable to bank workers.

Any customs officer found living above his income risks 10 years in jail.

Also, customs officers are liable to additional 10-year jail terms, if he forges, falsifies or alters any document relating to importation, or exportation of goods, products or any article.

President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to issue an instrument on the NSC.

The regulations are in the Bank Employees, etc (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, which was exclusively obtained by newsmen.

Section 12 of the Act is explicit on the list of those affected in Customs Service.

The Section reads: “Application of Act to the Nigerian Customs Service and to other persons and institutions.

“The provisions of this Act shall apply to the Comptroller General, Deputy Comptroller General, Assistant Comptroller General, Chief Collector, Principal Collector, Collector and other officer, staff or employee of the Nigerian Customs Service as they apply to a Chief Executive or an employee of a Bank.

“The President may direct by an instrument published in the Federal Gazette that the provisions of this Act be applied to any other person, class of employees, institutions or bodies either in the private or public sector of the Nigerian economy.”

On importation and exportation of goods, culpable officers may get additional 10- year imprisonment.

The Act says: “Offences relating to importation and exportation of goods and products. Any person who forges, falsifies or alters any document relating to importation or exportation of goods, products or any article whatsoever shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of ten years and any asset found to have been illegitimately acquired shall be forfeited to the Federal Government.

“In this section, “document” means any banking, customs or shipping documents including but not limited to letters of credit (confirmed or unconfirmed), bill of lading and invoices.”

For those aiding bankers and customs officers, to acquire and hide illegal assets it is a seven-year imprisonment.

The Act adds: “Offence relating to fronting (1) Any person who    (a)  acts as a front for an employee of a Bank or does or omits to do anything or acts in a manner likely to defeat the objects of this Act; or (b) unlawfully acquires, disposes, operates, owns or retains any assets for or on behalf of any employee of a bank, commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

“In addition to the imprisonment prescribed in subsection (1) of this section, the assets in question shall be forfeited to the Federal Government.

“For the purposes of this section, a person acts as a front if   (a)  he accepts a gift, donation or bequest from an employee of a bank on the understanding or in circumstances in which it could be inferred that such a gift, donation or bequest was intended to be held on behalf of, or in trust for or the use of the employee, his spouse, children, parents, relatives, associates or privies; or (b)  he knowingly enters into a fraudulent, fictitious or artificial transaction with the employee.”

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