Despite the colossal sums raked in by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) across several commands and units monthly and annually, there has also been an avalanche of court cases with aggrieved freight agents and their clients.
The issue leading to court cases have mostly bothered on seizures and monetary costs inflicted on traders while officers of the Service carry out their duties.
According to the Zonal Coordinator of Zone A, Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, ACG Modupe Aremu, a large chunk of these legal cases have been lost by Customs because officers don’t compile case files properly.
Aremu also noted that several Customs officers have been reluctant to show up in court to testify after making seizures, a development which has placed the service in a disadvantaged position.
“We are losing most of our cases in court because most of the case files aren’t properly compiled. Most of our officers are also unwilling to testify in court. You can’t make a seizure and be unwilling to testify in court because we will lose the case.”
“The legal officer has been stressing the need for proper complying of case files and that officers be willing to testify in courts,” she said while briefing Customs officers at Apapa, Tin Can Island and Ports and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) commands, last week.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to prioritize automation at Nigerian seaports, airports and land borders, NCS will be equipped with over seventy scanners under the ongoing Customs modernization project known as E-Customs.
Describing herself as a promoter of automation, ACG Aremu encouraged the Area Controllers and Deputy Controllers to prepare to support the innovation as it would usher in enormous benefits and enhance Customs operations.
The Zonal Customs boss noted that the first set of scanners will be deployed in Apapa, Tin Can Island and Onne ports to help strengthen the activities there and curb smuggling.
Her words: “With e-Customs we are also going to have about seventy scanners that will be deployed to all the Customs commands at the seaports and airports. E-Customs is about end-to-end automation to eliminate human contact at the ports. The scanner is a pictorial of everything that is in the container and that is very important and the government is making efforts to achieve this.”
During the tour, ACG Aremu also assured officers that the Comptroller-General, Col. Hammed Ali is concerned about the welfare of officers.
She noted that following Ali’s directive, the Deputy Comptroller-General, Financial Administration and Technical Service (FATS), DCG David Chikan visited Lagos to look for where to get land for a hospital of about 50-beds for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Contracts have also been awarded for building 132 two-bedroom flats for Customs officers. With this development, very soon our officers would have a befitting apartment in the discharge of their duties.