The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has ordered all its serving officers to declare their assets, The Nation has learnt.
The directive came just as the service retired 29 senior officers in addition to five others whose voluntary retirements were announced on Thursday.
The Nation investigation revealed that all officers from the first bar were directed to collect their asset declaration forms from their zonal offices with a view to determining the property they have illegally acquired.
Sources close to the service told our correspondent yesterday that any officer who made a false financial declaration would be detected through their bank verification numbers (BVNs) recently introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
More heads, a source said, will roll after the completion of the exercise.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NCS, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, said in a statement yesterday that the retirement of 29 officers was part of the efforts of the new Comptroller-General (CG), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) to re-position the service for greater efficiency and productivity.
Ali was appointed through a press release issued by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, following the voluntary retirement of the immediate past CG, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi.
The Nation had exclusively reported yesterday that five Deputies Comptroller-General of Customs (DCGs) had voluntarily retired from the service.
The three core mandates given to Ali by President Muhammmadu Buhari immediately he was appointed was to increase revenue generation, restructure Customs and reform the service.
A senior official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the retirement of the five DCGs, John Atte, Ibrahim Mera, Musa Tahir, Austin Nwosu and Akinade Adewuyi on Thursday, with another 29 senior officers yesterday, was part of the anti-corruption crusade of the new CG.
The official said: “Some of these officers have to go because of their super-rich status. Most of them and their immediate families live in questionable wealth that may still need to be investigated by the government.
“These are part of the stringent steps by the new Customs boss to sanitise and clean up the Service which has been plagued with strong allegations of corruption in the past.
“The CGC had vowed to embark on house cleansing in order to rid the service of corrupt officers and men.
“Although no organisation in Nigeria is corruption-free, the bad eggs in the service have tainted the rest as corrupt.”
In his statement, Adeniyi said three Assistant Comptrollers-General (ACGs) were affected in the ongoing re-organization exercise in the service.
The rest, according to him, are of the rank of Comptroller serving in Customs headquarters, zonal offices and various area commands.
“The re-organization of the Service is one of the core mandates of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd).
“The retirements were part of measures to kick-start the repositioning of the Service for improved performance,” Adeniyi said.
Also, a serving senior Customs officer told The Nation on Saturday on condition of anonymity that the service will experience more retirement, mass sack and demotion of officers and men because of those that were earlier promoted in questionable circumstances.
Addressing reporters at the Customs Training School in Ikeja during his official visit to Lagos, Ali had said that he had been informed about irregular promotion, posting and recruitment in the service over the years.
He said: “In every conversation and meeting with my men, I have told them that I realised that there are so many anomalies as regard their posting, promotion and recruitment.
“We will set up a committee to review the whole thing. Where people have not been promoted for no fault of theirs, we will address it. And where people have been promoted based on godfatherism, we will review it.
“Where people have refused to go to courses because they think they are sitting on a desk where they make some ‘egunje’ we know what to do. There are so many internal things that I don’t need to come out and start reeling out because we have taken note of all this, and I and my senior management have resolved to look at this and we will ensure that there is equity and justice in the service.”