This Day (Lagos)

26 January 2014

Nigeria: FG, States Withdrew N802.9 Billion From Excess Crude Account in 2013

About N802.9 billion was withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) in 2013 to shore up shortfalls in monthly revenue collections as well as settle arrears, according documents exclusively obtained by THISDAY.

The ECA, which was created to provide succor during the rainy days, had been depleted to about $2.5 billion by January 17, 2014 from about $11.5 billion in December 2012.

Analysts have argued that its depletion could not be justified because there has not been any serious economic shock to warrant the decimation.

However, details of the monthly revenue distribution from the Federation Account last year showed that about N3.5 billion was taken from the ECA in February, N173.5 billion in March to make up for shortfall, and another N156.7 billion in the same month to settle arrears.

Augmentation for April was put at N123.3 billion while the sum of N156.7 billion was withdrawn from the ECA in June to settle arrears for February.

Further breakdown revealed that about N92.4 billion was deducted in July to offset arrears for May as well as another N14.4 billion was deducted in August to settle arrears for June.

In September, the sums of N75 billion and about N7.1 billion were deducted from the ECA to settle outstanding arrears for June. No deductions were recorded for the months of January, May, July, October, November and December. Meanwhile, in a development that could undermine the revenue prospects at the Apapa terminal, some members of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have protested the retention of the current head of the scanning unit of the port- one Deputy Comptroller (DC) Mrs. Aremu, who is the Officer-in-charge of the scanning site.

A senior customs official who would not want to be named told THISDAY that DC Aremu had been overseei g the scanning site prior to the transition programme between the NCS and service providers.

However, preparatory to the takeover from the service providers, some customs officers were said to have been trained on the various scanning essentials including Check in and out operators, image analysts, traffic marshals as well as scanning managers in order to take over scanning activities from service providers.

It was gathered that after the December 31 takeover event from service providers, trained customs officers were deployed in various scanning sites from the Abuja head office of the NCS to take charge of the various units across the country.

However, in the case of the Apapa scanning site, the source told THISDAY that DC Aremu had refused to give up the position to the newly-assigned Assistant Comptroller, who is to become the head of the unit."Now the Scanning Manager posted to the Apapa Scanning site has no office of his own.

He strolls around the premises and she (Aremu) is still the one to release containers instead of the approved scanning manager who was posted to Apapa from competent senior officers in the scanning unit Abuja," the source said.

Continuing, the source said:" We urge the CG and DCG under SR&P who oversee the scanning unit/ICT under NCS to look into this abnormalities before the dream of generating high revenue for the federal government drops as the Apapa scanning site scans more containers than any other site in Nigeria and also works 24 hours to enable the dream of the NCS come true."

The source added that the development was generating a lot of controversies and having negative effects on port operations partly because Aremu had little experience in scanning.

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