Home News How Nigeria Customs Damaged $120m Cargo Scanners Installed at Border Posts Within 1 Year
News - Politics - May 25, 2021

How Nigeria Customs Damaged $120m Cargo Scanners Installed at Border Posts Within 1 Year

Nigeria’s House of Representatives members were shocked on Monday when the Acting Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Aliyu Saidu, defended the irresponsible handling of the 22 cargo scanners purchased by the Federal Government to automate its operations.

The 22 cargo scanners were purchased at over $120 million to digitize the system at the ports and border stations instead of the inefficient analogue process of physical examination that the officials were accustomed to.

The scanners were installed at various Customs operation locations at Tin-Can Island Port, Mappa; Port Harcourt Area One Command, Onne Port; and Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Plus, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Seme and Idi-Iroko borders, Port Harcourt and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airports.

This was supposed to help forestall the easy entry of arms and ammunition that come through Nigerian borders, seaports, and airports without detection by security operatives.

Public Hearing

Following the resolution by the House Committee on Customs and Excise to investigate the mishandling of the equipment, the Customs leadership was summoned to a one-day public hearing on Monday, May 24.

At the hearing, Comptroller-General Saidu said part of the reasons the scanners were left to rot away was that there was no diesel to run generators to power them.

The Customs boss added that when the equipment required maintenance, the service providers demanded money from the NCS, the request which it refused to grant. Therefore, he said, the service providers failed to show up.

In his defense, Manoj Jagtiani, CEO, Merry Aviation Electronics, whose company was involved in the management and supply of the scanners, said his team made several moves to help the Customs fix the problem but its efforts were futile.

The backstory

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila while expressing his disappointment at the Customs, recalls how the scanners were purchased.

According to him, Nigeria acquired the cargo scanners in 2006 “and retained the service providers on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) terms”.


He said the contract also mandated the service providers to provide training and technical support services to NCS on risk management, valuation, and classification.

After completing the training process in 2013, the service providers, COTECNA, SGS Scanning Nigeria Ltd, and Global Scan Systems Nigeria Ltd, handed the scanners to the Customs management.

Gbajabiamila said the scanners, which the Customs confirmed worked perfectly, stopped functioning within a year of the handover and the Nigerian ports and borders reverted to the analogue method.

Interestingly, this is coming to light now because the government is pushing to purchase another four scanners, a move the House Committee described as worrisome.


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