Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to begin blocking of licenses of companies and subsequent arrest of the owners of over 1,000 unutilized Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) and unpaid assessment at the Apapa Command.
The new Customs Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir gave this hint while responding to questions raised by the stakeholders at his maiden stakeholders’ meeting which held at the command in Apapa, Lagos on Tuesday.
The Customs boss said that he expected to receive an official report on the status of unutilized PAAR in the command in writing by Thursday this week, noting that the command alone had over 1,000 unutilized PAAR.
Bashir also called on the companies, organizations as well as agents to any of the companies or organizations with records of unutilized PAAR or unpaid assessment to come forward and check the record so as to take necessary action to prevent punitive measures from the Customs.
He said, “When you have unutilized PAAR or unpaid assessment, I don’t invite you because you know about it already, so there is no need for me to invite you, it’s just action. What is the action? One, blocking you, your company will not be able to carry any cargo in any of the ports in Nigeria. Two, if you don’t act again, find a way to go and seal up your company if you are the agent. If you are the importer, I seal off the company, arrest whoever I want to arrest because it amounts to economic sabotage.
“Please disseminate this information and you will be surprised you have an importation, the cargo you have not taken it, it is still in the port, meanwhile, your company’s name is in the list of those that have not utilized their PAAR or you have even done the assessment but simply because you are having one issue or the other with any of the stakeholders like the shipping companies or the terminal operators, you have not been able to take your cargo, in customs circle, it will still be signaling to us that it has not been taken but you have done assessment, you have two problems now; one, you have done assessment, two, unutilized PAAR meanwhile, the cargo is still in the ports.
“So, as a professional, you need to understand what the turnaround date for qualification of overtime cargo is; it is twenty-eight days. Any cargo you have within any of the customs formations within Nigeria, after twenty-eight days, Nigeria Customs Service can take that cargo and write to the court and court will give us court condemnation and the Nigerian government has right over that cargo legally both in CEMA and through the Nigerian Constitution. Let us take not of that”.
On the NICIS II platform recently launched by the Service, the Customs Area Controller noted that the platform was at teething stage now adding that currently, they had identified some other issues at the command as it relates to NICIS II which he said he was sending to the Comptroller General of Customs for consideration.
“So, it is like on daily basis, we improve and just give us little time but it is good we hear about it because you are encouraging us”, he added.
He further informed that he had already tackled the problem of multiple alerts even as he observed out of the five alerts, he had collapsed them to three now.
He continued, “You may not even get anyone, honestly, because, there is nothing wrong in alert. I want you to understand something, if a professional prepares document and uploads it into the customs system, no customs officer will put any alert on it. I stand to be corrected. The same thing is happening with multiple interceptions, maybe you are the type that wants to corners, you don’t want physical examination, you don’t want your cargo to be examined and all that and other sister organizations are aware, before you know it, they will take your container number and wait for your arrival.
He stressed that once an agent was able to do honest and sincere declaration, he or she wouldn’t have problem with anybody at the ports.