Licensed customs agents in the country have called for the federal government’s intervention for the release of goods held up at the borders, which are covered under the import clearance procedure.
The President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of clearing agents in the country, Mr. Lucky Amiwero made the appeal in a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The goods importers, he stated, had obtained ‘Form M,’ issued with Pre-Arrival Assessment report (PAAR), paid import Duty and have undergone transit clearance in line with the import guideline covered under Section 3 of the Pre- shipment Inspection Act that authorised the process.
According to the customs agents boss, “some of the goods held up at the border are legal originating goods from third country covered under common External Tariff, that has been subjected to legal import guideline procedures, with some of the goods issued, with form “M,” import duty paid while awaiting normal exit clearance to assess Nigerian corridor. At the time of most importation and process of the held up goods at the border, there was no circular restricting the goods held up, which was done almost immediately.
“The closure should have been backed by a circular to the trading public before the closure, so as to comply with Section 18 of the Customs and Excise Management Act C 45 of 2004, the (WCO) Kyoto Convention Chapter 9 and WTO Article X, which address trade information in advance, these should have eliminated the present difficulties experience by the Trading public on the held up goods at the borders.”
He added: “Furthermore, most goods that are still at the border are on the top of the trailers accruing demurrages and rent in the Port at the country of transit, after obtaining Form” M” and shipment is expected to Transit to Nigerian territory.
“We hereby appeal as respected member of Presidential and Ministerial Committee on Customs Reform, Destination Inspection Committee, Import Clearance Procedures Etc, to feel concerned for the huge lost that is occasioned by the border closure
“While we are not contesting the fact that lot of unwholesome practice exist at the border we appeal to the Federal Government to look into the complexities of the closure and address legitimate importers/Licensed Customs Agent to relief them of the present Borden of cost and save lives.”
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) had on August 19, 2019, announced that it will in collaboration with the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) other Armed Forces as well as and other security and intelligence agencies conduct a joint border security exercise, codenamed, “EX-SWIFT RESPONSE.”
Customs Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, who made this known in a statement, said that the exercise is part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.
The joint exercise, he stated, would be coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and will take place in 4 geopolitical zones, namely; South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West.
According to him, “It is expected that the exercise will promote interagency cooperation and increase preparedness to address trans-border security challenges such as terrorism, armed banditry, smuggling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, amongst others. “The exercise will also involve the movement of personnel, vehicles and equipment within the affected parts of the country.
Therefore, we call on members of the public not to panic and should continue to engage in their normal duties. The overall objective is to ensure a peaceful and secured country in the interest of our National Security.”