Customs Moves to Review CEMA Act


Eromosele Abiodun

In a bid to ensure trade facilitation and efficient service delivery, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has embarked on the drive to review Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).

Speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement on the review of CEMA, held in Lagos, the Comptroller-General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) urged stakeholders to consider national interest in their inputs to the review of the Act.

Ali said that the review was necessary and overdue to enable the NCS meet up with modern customs administration under a template provided by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

The NCS boss added that the consulting stakeholders were strong pillars for any modern Customs administration, adding that customs legal framework defines who the customs is, what it does and how or who the laws relate with.

According to him, “Over the years, both Customs and stakeholders have clamoured for a review of our enabling law which was first enacted in 1958. CEMA did not undergo any major review for over half a century.

“This attempt represents a collective resolve to update our laws and realign its provisions with modern realities. Most importantly, we need to take a second look at the provisions for sanctions that are neither punitive nor deterrent enough to promote compliance.’’

He explained that the review of the CEMA was originally initiated by the immediate past administration of the NCS adding that they could not get presidential assent after undergoing the legislative processes.
Ali said that review process by the last administration, therefore lapsed and, “the present administration is back at the starting blocks again to review the CEMA law.”

He urged government agencies and stakeholders to always access customs trade hub for any information relating to any consignment coming into the country, without visiting any customs office.

The Legal Adviser to the NCS, Mr. Paul Ikhenoba, who is also the Chairman of the Review Committee, said that the review was fundamental to customs modernisation efforts, which was a sound legal structure in line with international norms and best practices.

He said: “The CEMA law was enacted in 1958 and the initial gap analysis of the Act was conducted in 2009 which discovered that the law was lacking, with the respect to the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC).

“The law does not contain provisions to support the use of modern Information Technology (IT), such as use of electronic documents, signatures and payments as well as application of risk management, post clearance audit and special, simplified procedures for qualified readers.”