By Kenneth Jukpor
Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto has called for the sack of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) and the current managerial team for incompetence and lack of professionalism.
Farinto who was speaking with journalists yesterday, lamented that the Service has lost direction and was in dire need of a fresh management team to steer it in the right direction.
He alleged that since the present Ali’s administration came onboard there have been frivolous demand notices slammed on importers, adding that Customs agents face several bottlenecks in the clearance of goods which negate the Federal Government’s goal to enhance the ease of doing business at ports.
The veteran freight forwarder also lampooned the establishment of numerous intervention squads, including the Customs CG taskforce that intercepts consignments already legitimately cleared by Customs at the seaports.
Farinto argued that the present management team needs to be rejuvenated and opined that sacking the Customs CG and top managerial team would spark new tenacity and managerial procedures in the Customs service.
“There is an urgent need to change the Customs management team. Recall that when the CG of Customs, Col. Ali was appointed, we were made to believe that he was going to add value. I want to say emphatically that this current Customs management team is not adding value,” he said.
He pointed out the dearth of professionalism in Customs and unnecessary demand notices slammed on importers, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to fire the CG and the current Deputy Comptroller-Generals.
Farinto expressed optimism that the younger officers could inject new vigour, dynamism and efficiency to take the Customs Service to new heights.
The ANLCA Vice President decried the horrendous task freight agents go through to examine their cargoes, citing the absence of scanners and subsequent 100 percent physical examination as another dent on the Customs management.
Narrating agents ordeal at Lagos ports, he said; “After a set containers have been examined, we have a situation where the CG has a taskforce within the port, they stop consignment. The same CG taskforce is outside the ports. You can see them at Area B, Apapa and Mile 2. We have compliance team of the same taskforce. We have Federal Operation Units (FOU) and the Customs has further increased the units with another new one called SWAT as if we are in America. You need to see the kind of hassles our members go through at night.”
According to Farinto, Nigerian land borders remain porous as smugglers find ways to get their goods into the country with aid from Customs, despite the closed borders.
Farinto, who is also a Governing Board member of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), lamented that for two days agents could not make declaration as the Customs commands said the Service was upgrading its system.
“This Customs leadership team does what it likes. In the last 48 hours, freight agents couldn’t make declaration and Customs simply tell us that they are upgrading their system, which they have failed to upgrade over the weekend leading to huge demurrage charges,” he added.