* Importers have right to transfer consignments to any terminal
By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has revealed that over 90% of the tramadol seizures recorded in the country recently, came from India.
Customs disclosed this when the Assistant Comptroller-General in-charge of ‘Zone A’, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie led a delegation of top Customs officers to the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), yesterday.
This was revealed during an interactive session as the Deputy Controller, Enforcement at Tin Can Island Customs Command, DC Dera Nnadi explained why the Customs may flag down several containers, particularly suspicious ones from India.
The Customs officer explained that a similar procedure was successfully utilized by Tin Can Customs Command to flag down Great James who became a notorious importer of arms and ammunition from Turkey in 2017.
Earlier, the Zonal Coordinator ‘Zone A’, ACG Ekekezie stated that the Zonal headquarters of Customs makes a whooping N5.5 billion on daily basis from duties and taxes.
The Customs boss attributed the huge collection to increase compliance by freight forwarders and the high level of integrity and discipline displayed by officers and men of the Service.
She observed that freight forwarders play a critical role in the release of goods, noting that they were professionals with a vital role in every government trade policy formulation, such as the recent ease of doing business policy at ports.
“The customs have deployed Internet Technology (IT) to ensure efficient service delivery. Today, there is also higher compliance to customs regulations in declarations. We make N5.5bn every day because people are beginning to comply. Customs earning is part of what is used in paying the security agencies too.
“Customs made under the new regime N1trillion in one year. We never made that kind of sum in the past. However, with proper documentation and correct declarations we will achieve higher goals together with you, the freight forwarder as a good partner”, she said.
Ekekezie also maintained that under the leadership of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) there has been a new aura of discipline in the Service which has led to the dismissal of several officers as a result of indiscipline and corruption.
She said, “In Nigeria Customs today, several officers are finding their ways out each time we go for management meetings. Officers are being de-ranked or dismissed.”
Reacting to complaints from freight forwarders that some Customs Commands in the Zone had declined importers request to transfer their consignment to other terminals, Ekekezie reiterated that the importer had the right to transfer his cargo to any terminal.
According to her, the transfer of consignments should be seen by Customs and other stakeholders in the port community as a viable avenue to ease the traffic gridlock on Apapa and Tin Can Port corridors, as the most important thing was that the Customs duty on the consignment was payed.
She stressed that all forms of unnecessary delays in cargo clearance from the port would no longer be condoned by the Service, admonishing freight forwarders whose cargoes are unnecessarily delayed to report to the Zone for immediate action.
Meanwhile, Ekekezie frowned at the number of transaction alerts alleged to be recorded at Tin Can Command, admonishing the Command to streamline the alerts, just as she equally lamented that the nine signatories required for transire was too much.
She directed that the number of alerts be reduced to facilitate trade, just as the Compt. Mohammed Aliyu, Area Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, agreed that it was unnecessary, as the reasons adduced for them could be handled even at a point.
On his part, the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam commended Ekekezie and her team for honouring the association’s request to have the meeting, however, he stressed that such deliberations should be frequent as both parties were partners.
Aniebonam also urged the Customs to be more coercive in the utilization of its powers to arrest and detain uncompliant freight forwarders, noting that such actions would move Customs operations to the next level.