By Eromosele Abiodun
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has vowed to bring to book importers and freight forwarders who are bent on defrauding the federal government.
Specifically, he said importers who abuse the fast track facility meant to enhance trade facilitation and global best practices will face the full weight of the law.
The CGC read the riot act last Friday when he visited Apapa port command of the Nigeria Customs on his way from Cotonou where he embarked on a two-day working visit.
According to him, “We are out on a mission and we get information on matters such as this, we react. I am glad that the Apapa command was able to nip this in the bud. I am here to strengthen the command, commend them for what they are doing and use the opportunity to send a very strong message to our partners who are either importers or freight forwarding agents. Anybody got in this crime will be brought to book. Once you falsely declare and we discover it, it is automatic seizure. Whoever is involved will face the law and if there is any officer that connived with the importer he will be prosecuted and the minimum jail term is five years.”
He added: “These are Instances that have continued to deter us from ascending to global best practices in trade facilitation. We will no longer trust in our stakeholders when we grant certain reprieve to ensure smooth clearing of goods and they turn around and abuse it. We have no option therefore than to subject every container that comes to our ports to 10 per cent inspection. That is going to course delay and increased expenses. At the end of the day, it is the poor consumer that will bear the cost.
“I therefore want to use this opportunity to say that in line with the law, we will fight corruption to its knees. That was the promise we made to this nation when we assumed duty. We are sure that anybody that has gone contrary to the law in the course of doing their job will be brought to book. We will use this as an example.’’
Meanwhile, the Apapa Area One Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has recorded massive growth in monthly revenue generation.
Statistical figure made available to THISDAY revealed that the command collected a total of N27.5billion for the month of July as against N23billion in the month of June, indicating a 16.36 per cent increase.
Analysis of the numbers revealed that while N14.3billion was paid into the federation account in the month of July, N12.2billion was paid into the same account in June.
Also, import duty paid by importers to the Command for the month of July was put at N12.9billion while that of June stood at N10.5billion.
A further analysis of the numbers showed that while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff for July stood at N1.4billion, June recorded a slightly higher figure of N1.5billion.
This is against the seven per cent Port levy of N897million for July and N740 million for the month of June.
Furthermore, the one per cent Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), for July and June stood at N1.8billion and N1.4billion respectively.
For 0.5 per cent of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), the command recorded N975million and N775million or July and June of 2016.
The flagship of the Customs service collected only N2.2million in July as against N20million in June as National Automotive (NAC) fees.
For Rice and Wheat Grain levies, a total of N563million and N1.5billion were collected for July and N1.2billion and N2billion collected for June respectively.
N922million and N18.5million were also collected as Iron and Sugar levies for the month of July and N21million and N204million for the June.
The Value Added Tax (VAT) recorded for the months of June and July stood at N4.4billion and N6.6billion respectively.