By Kenneth Jukpor
Following the numerous complaints on the perceived bottleneck to be instituted by the deployment of Customs Strikeforce at the ports, the National Public Relations Officer of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Mr. Joseph Attah has lamented the exaggerated interpretation of the development.
Attah who was speaking exclusively to MMS Plus, stressed that the presence of the Customs Strikeforce at the ports would only be required when there were suspicious containers to be examined.
He lamented that some individuals and groups for some dubious reasons have exaggerated the effects of the recent circular.
“Some individuals and groups for some reasons best known to them have embarked on an exaggerated interpretation on the simple circular. The otherwise simple routine circular reminds the Customs of the need to honour alerts and allow Strikeforce to be part of joint examination of suspected containers”
“You should note that Strikeforce would only be part of suspected containers and not all containers. The Officer in-Charge (OC) Strikeforce knows his limitations and he would not attempt to go beyond his brief” Attah assured.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr. Stanley Ezenga told MMS Plus that the major problem was that the Customs Service had lost confidence in its officers at the ports.
“Isn’t the Strikeforce part of the Nigeria Customs Service? The role of the Service include combating smuggling, revenue generation and prevention of offensive goods and contrast from getting into the country. This is the duty of Customs. Strikeforce, FOU, CIU are all Customs officers. So, it doesn’t matter what name they bear because they are doing what statutorily the Customs should do. Strike force is going into the port to intervene on the same issue of offensive goods but this development shows that the Customs is lacking confidence in the officers already stationed within the ports”, he said.
The NAGAFF PRO admonished the Customs management to reshuffle officers at the ports if they had lost confidence in them.
“If you feel some officers aren’t doing the job why keep them there? Why not change them and bring in people you can be sure of their integrity? This mutiplicity of units at the ports brings about increased cost of operating the ports and it negates the government’s stance on ease of doing business.
Consignments which should spend two days at the ports end up staying up to one week with these unnecessary interventions”
He also opined that the introduction Customs Strikeforce to the ports would negate the ease of doing business that the government was preaching, even as he admonished importers to make honest declaration.
“If an importer says he is carrying toothpick and the container is opened to find toothpick in the exact quality as declared, there wouldn’t be need for unnecessary delays in the clearing process and introduction of these Customs units” he added.
He stressed that importers should do proper feasibility studies on the products they import to ascertain the Customs duty and possibility of making profit after paying duties.