Warns smugglers against killing officers
James Emejo in Abuja
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, has disclosed that the federal government has set a revenue target of N887 billion for the agency in 2019.
But he promised that the figure would be significantly surpassed as the management had earlier set a higher target for the organisation.
Speaking at the opening of the 2019 International Customs Day (ICD) with the theme: ‘Smart Border for Seamless, Trade, Travel and Transport”, Ali, however, warned that the NCS would no longer tolerate the incessant killing of its officers by smugglers.
He vowed to counter such attacks with appropriate force going forward.
Ali said the organisation intended to raise its revenue drive by acquiring non-intrusive equipment to boost trade facilitation and urged stakeholders to comply with trade rules.
He said the Customs generated N904.072 billion, N898.673 billion, N1.037 trillion and N1.202 trillion in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, totaling about N4.042 trillion.
He advised the federal government to crash the clearance cost of vehicles to dissuade the illegal activities of smugglers.
According to him,: “We have 35 per cent duty and 35 per cent levy, and so if you import a brand new vehicle into Nigeria, you pay 70 per cent duty. From what we have done and based on statistics, we discovered that this duty has now driven most of our importers to our neighbouring ports and also it has increased the rate of smuggling into this country of new vehicles.
“Having interacted with our stakeholders, we discovered from what they said that the sudden increase in duty is what is driving them.
“And since 35 per cent duty cannot be tinkered with, the one that can be tinkered with which is a policy by the Nigerian Government, the 35 per cent was put in order to encourage our automotive industry to ensure that it is developed.
“If we reduce the levy, the volume of cars that would be imported into Nigeria will increase and the revenue from the NCS will increase.
“So, we are advising that government should review the levy and we are asking that it should be reduced to about 10 per cent. If you do that, then it will mean that the collective duty on new vehicle will be about 45 per cent.
“That is 35 per cent duty and ten per cent levy. With that, we will eventually get an increase in volume of vehicles that are imported; smuggling will be reduced and therefore we will realise more revenue and the lives of our people will be saved.”
Ali, however, identified the problems facing the NCS to include porous borderlines, inadequate non-intrusive equipment, hostile border community dwellers, high level of non-formal trades, low implementation of ECOWAS Protocol on transit, low level of compliance among international trade actors among others.
Reacting to the continued killing of Customs officers on duties, he warned: “Enough is enough! We won’t take it anymore. If host communities decide to side with criminals, then it means they are all criminals and we will treat them as such. These killings have to stop.
“Border communities, parents, guardians, traditional rulers and other stakeholders should call their ward to order. We will take up arms to protect our officers and men.
“We urge border dwellers to report smugglers’ activities. These are economic saboteurs. We need to jointly protect the country.”