Despite N5bn daily revenue from boarder closure, Customs owes allowances

Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Col. Hammed Ali (Retd)

Some officers of the Nigeria Customs Service have lamented the failure of the NCS to pay the full special allowances promised them for border patrol duty.

This is despite claims by the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Hameed Ali, that the agency has been generating more than N5bn daily since the border was shut.

It was learnt that the NCS had in August paid the men and officers of customs special allowances for border patrol based on their rank.

It was learnt that Assistant Superintendents of Customs were paid about N380, 000 for border patrol while lower ranks received about half of the sum.

However, in September, the allowances were slashed by about 80 per cent, causing disaffection among the officers.

A customs officer, who wished to remain anonymous said, “We were informed in August that all land borders would be shut and we would need to work overtime but that we would receive special allowances.

“The allowances would cover feeding, transportation and other expenses. It was also done so that we would not yield to temptations from those who usually offer us bribes for us to look the other way. As a PSC, I was paid about N380,000 while lower ranks were paid around N200,000.

“The plan was that the borders would be shut for just one month and that was why we were well paid. For reasons best known to our CG, the border closure was extended without proper planning. As a result, our allowances were slashed because there’s no money. I received just about N70, 000 last month.”

Another officer said he had to pay some of his men out of his own allowances so that they would not lose their high morale.

He said if the customs authorities do not take swift action, the men may be forced to return to their old ways.

The officer added, “Apart from customs, others involved in the operation include men of the Department of State Services, Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigerian Army and the police. However, the Customs is the lead agency in this operation.

“There are over 100 illegal entry points around Idi Iroko alone. If customs men do not give the needed direction to the other operatives, the operation will fail. We call on the CG to make good his promise by paying us our allowances.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Spokesman for the NCS, Mr. Jerry Attah, refused to comment on the matter.

However, a senior officer told The PUNCH that the men would be paid their allowances.

He said the CG would never divert the allowances of the customs men.

“What happened was that we didn’t have enough money to pay their allowances so we decided to give them something small to hold on to. When money is released to the NCS, the officers on border duty would be paid their balance. Their pay was not slashed,” he said.

 

PUNCH

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