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Lawmakers to engage forensic auditor over Customs payments

The House of Representatives Committee on Customs is to engage experts in forensic audit to look into the payment receipts and all activities of IT service provider to Nigeria Customs Service, Webb Fontaine.

Chairman of the Committee Leke Abajide who made this known during investigative hearing in Abuja, said the decision is to ascertain actual revenue loss to the government and other stakeholders.

The investigative hearing was a follow-up on the decision of the House of which the motive was to ensure compliance to service level agreements with the IT service provider Webb Fontaine, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Customs Service.

According to Mr Abajide government and Nigerians had suffered various degrees of losses from downtime a fault from the consultant.

He stated that government agencies are supposed to refund payments made for services they did not offer.

Director Home Finance, Ali Mohammed who represented the Minister of Finance budget and National Planning noted that the contract had been in place since 2006 to date.

He claimed that the mandate on ease of doing business and to fastrack clearing process of cargoes in ports had not been realised from the consultant as the Nigerian Customs will take over the services.

Mr Mohammed explained that so far, 60% of the contract payment had been made to Webb Fontaine.

Representative of Nigerian Customs Service Kingsley Egwu said, Webb Fontaine had not provided necessary training for Customs to properly take over the services.

The Managing Director of Webb Fontaine, Opeyemi Babalola agreed to the issue of downtime but maintained that there are site engineers on ground to address issues at any point.

He promised to improve on services as he explained that the firm recently changed some of its network service providers.

The Committee insisted that the Central Bank of Nigeria appear before it next week to provide some details regarding the investigation.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Muzha Kucha