The founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has cautioned the freight forwarding practitioners not to be carried away by the directive of the Comptroller General of Customs on dismantling of illegal checkpoints across the nation to do any wrong thing against the Customs laws.
Customs Still Has Powers To Patrol Freely- Aniebonam
Aniebonam who gave this advice on a press release he issued on Friday last week noted that the directive of the Comptroller-General had not removed the powers of the Customs to patrol freely within the territorial boundaries of Nigeria.
He pointed out that the advice became necessary as the Presidential Orders to dismantle all illegal checkpoints may not save anybody found in contravention of Customs laws.
“What has just happened is to state clearly from our perspective that the Presidential Order has not altered the power to stop-and-search persons, vehicles and ships etc., where there is reasonable suspicion that goods and other materials in contravention of Customs laws are kept or sighted.
“We therefore wish to advise practitioners not to be carried away by this order to do any wrong thing against the Customs laws because the Presidential Orders to dismantle all alleged illegal checkpoints may not save anybody found in contravention of Customs laws.
“It is also important to note that the Presidential Orders do not negate the extant laws of the Nigeria Customs and or any other laws that has to do with Nigeria international trade and logistics.
“The truth of the matter is that to the extent that importers and freight agents can become compliant to import and export regulations of the Government shall be the road map to remove the patrol teams from the roads. It should be clear that anything to the contrary is baseless because of the extant laws of the Customs that give them the powers to patrol freely within the territorial boundaries of Nigeria in the discharge of their statutory duty”, he said.
While advising the Customs on the need to ensure proper Customs examination, Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) averred that the CGC and the Comptrollers of the various operational areas of the Customs formations should be seen to ensure discipline in the event of abuse by officers with regard to Customs laws and regulations.
“The inherent abuse of the laws and procedures by Customs examiners and freight forwarders are the issues remotely causing the relevance of the patrol teams of the Customs intervention units of the Federal Operations and CGC Compliance team”, he added.
It will be recalled that the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) recently gave a directive vide the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) order to remove all illegal check points across the country.
Accordingly the Comptroller General of Customs has declared that check points mounted outside forty kilometers to the borders were deemed illegal while information patrols outside this point should not last more than twenty four (24) hours at any given time.
The CGC went further to make better and clearer clarification and thus explaining that the 40km radius applied only to the borders and consequently there should be no check-points within the ports areas.