Media group accuses customs of corruption, non-compliance with FOI Act
In continuation of its campaign for compliance with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) yesterday accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of corruption and lack of transparency in its operations.
The pro-media group indicted the Comptroller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), of violating provisions of the FOI Act, 2001 adding that the reputation of the Customs service as one of the most corrupt government institutions in the country has been made worse by its refusal to comply with the Act.
Announcing its selection of the NCS as this week’s inductee into the Hall of Shame, MRA’s Director of Programmes, Ayode Longe, noted that since the passage of the FOI Act over six years ago, the Customs had failed to comply with provisions of the Law, thereby undermining its effectiveness.
“It is our view that an agency like the NCS, which collects huge sums of money in import and excise duties as well as other taxes and levies from Nigerians, should have no discretion on whether to be transparent and accountable in all its operations.
“The duty to be transparent and accountable flows naturally from the nature of the institution and its functions. When this duty is further imposed by Law, as the FOI Act does, any breach of that duty should be viewed with seriousness and visited with harsh sanctions,” he said.
Justifying the choice of the NCS for induction into the FOI Hall of Shame, it noted that by virtue of Section two of the FOI Act, the agency, like every other public institution to which the Act applies, was required to proactively disclose information even without requests from the public.
He added that the service should also continually update and review such information periodically and immediately whenever any changes occur. It further accused the NCS of shying away from complying with the statutory obligation, which is one of the most efficient ways of providing information to citizens, of being transparent and accountable for the revenues it collects, as well as in its operations.
MRA also observed that Section 29 of the Act places an obligation on the Customs, like other public institutions, to submit an annual FOI implementation report to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).It added that since the Act was passed into Law, the NCS had not submitted any FOI implementation report to the AGF.