The heads of two key federal agencies who are also close allies of
President Muhammadu Buhari have been sparring over allegations and counter
allegations of unprofessionalism and illegality.
The disagreement by the two officials appears to confirm insinuations of
division among some leading lights of the Buhari administration.
The turf war stems from a letter written by the Director-General of the
State Security Service (SSS), Lawal Daura, to Mr. Buhari on September 8.
In the letter, the security chief accused the Nigerian Customs Service,
(NCS), of introducing a $25,000 as new Temporary Import Permit (TIP), levy
on each vessel that berths to discharge petroleum products in Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES sighted correspondences revealing wrangling between Mr.
Daura, a kinsman of the President, and the Director-General of NCS, Hameed
Ali, a retired colonel and ally of Mr. Buhari.
The said levy, as Mr. Daura reported to the President, was illegal as it
was not provided for on the PPRA template, not receipted, and could
increase the cost of petrol by 56 kobo per litre.
In international trade circle, TIP is a customs’ procedure under which
certain goods can be brought into a country without payment of duties or
taxes and without import prohibition and restriction.
Ports insiders further explained that it is a condition that the goods
will be issued for certain period of time and exported back at the
expiration of TIP.
But before it is issued, those knowledgeable about NCS operations
regarding the issuance said an applicant must post a bond to cover the
import duty and other charges inclusive of the 25 per cent penalty in case
of violation of the terms.
In Mr. Daura’s memo, he further reported that the alleged introduction of
$25,000 TIP levy followed the detention of a vessel, MT Histria Ivory, at
Apapa by NCS operatives.
He reported to the President that Major Oil Marketers Association of
Nigeria (MOMAN) made the complaint that formed the basis of his memo.
A week after receiving the memo, Mr. Buhari forwarded it to Mr. Ali,
demanding his “summary report of your considered view”.
In his response, Mr. Ali told the President that the SSS under Mr. Daura
appeared to be more interested in smear campaign and personal vendetta
than in thorough investigation and anti-corruption efforts of the
He explained that the said vessel, MT Histria Ivory, was truly detained
but that was after it was sighted discharging cargo at Apapa Jetty.
He said the detention was to ascertain whether it had TIP or liable for
payment of duty.
While the investigation was ongoing, before Mr. Daura’s memo to the
President, MOMAN alleged imposition of $25,000 TIP levy per vessel by the
NCS via a letter copied to the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Ibe
Kachikwu; Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun; the SSS and the Customs
MOMAN, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, wrote the complaint letter one week before
Mr. Daura sent the memo to the president.
Mr. Ali told the President: “It was this letter copied to the DSS that the
Department relied on without any investigation and reported to Mr.
President that NCS is collecting $25 thousand TIP levy without issuing
receipt any receipt.
“The DSS copied all the allegations of MOMAN almost verbatim without any
input from them. The Department should have investigated the matter with a
view to bringing the perpetrators of the alleged dastardly act to justice.
“This would have been in line with the Federal Government’s efforts of
stamping out corruption in the country. It seems however that the DSS is
more interested in smear campaign than doing what is right.”
Mr. Ali insisted that the issuance of TIP does not involve payment of
money and that the NCS had stopped conducting cash transactions since
He further reported to the President that MOMAN which made the original
complaint was invited by the NCS to bring evidence its members were being
charged TIP levy.
In the MOMAN statement understood to have been attached to Mr. Ali’s reply
to the President, the body reportedly said the payment which increased
from $5,000 to $25,000 was made through shipping agents.
Mr. Ali said the NCS further pressed MOMAN to help identify culpable
Customs officials involved in such shady deals.
However, up to the time of writing the letter no response was received
from MOMAN despite numerous follow-up telephone calls, the retired colonel
He added that the agent of the detained ship, Integrated Shipping Service
Limited, was also interviewed, and that stated “no Customs officer
demanded for an unreceipted payment of $25 thousand from us or our
The agent’s statement was attached to the NCS’ reply to the President,
PREMIUM TIMES understands.
“Proper investigation should always be carried out on complaints such as
this which casts serious doubt on the integrity of services and
organisations with a view to ascertaining the truth or otherwise of such
allegations before reporting such to the Mr. President.
“The DGSS should therefore be advised to approach issues professionally
and not allow sentiments or personal vendetta to drive his actions,” Mr.
Ali told the President and copied Mr. Daura, saying “above for your
The disagreement between the officials came to light weeks after Mr. Daura
was caught in another controversy after he levelled allegations against
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim
Magu, to frustrate the confirmation of his appointment by the Senate.
A fact-check by the newspaper showed that the allegations made by the SSS
were substantially false.