Customs Agents Urge FG to Enforce Executive Order on Reduction of Security Agents at Seaports

Eromosele Abiodun

Customs agents in the country have called on the federal government to urgently ensure the implementation and enforcement of the Executive Order on the reduction of security agents and a one-stop-shop process as provided in the Port Related Offences Act No. 61 of 1999.

Implementation and enforcement of the order, they stressed, will eliminate the lengthy and cumbersome procedures in the Ports.

The President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of customs agents in Nigeria, Mr Lucky Amiwero made the call in a petition to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

According to him, “We hereby bring to the attention of the Federal Government,  the lengthy and cumbersome procedures   in the Port, and  the need for the implementation and enforcement of the Executive order on the reduction of security agents and a one-stop-shop process as provided in the Port (related offences, Etc.)(Admendment) Act No.61 of 26th May 1999.

“We   implore the federal government to act and address the lengthy, cumbersome procedures and Costly process in our Ports System by implementing the Port (Related offences , Etc.,(Admendment) Act , so as to free the Port from bottle neck s and make our port a preferred Port within the sub-region.”

The agents added, “As a result of conflicting interpretation of the 1999 Budget Speech on Port Reforms announced by the then Head of state, General Abudulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, the Honorable Minister of Transport issued clarification of the authorized Agents who are to be in the Port and perform examination   reference no MT.206/S.70/VOL.1V OF 20 January 1999.

Subsequently, the Secretary to the Government of the  Federation , clarified, the agencies that are to be in the port in reference ECD/P/32/S.1/37 OF 28TH January 1999, the only agencies authorized to be at the point of examination of Cargo and clearance of Import.

“The Managing Director of Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), through directive issued out Memo , reference RE:- implementation and enforcement of policy measures enunciated in the 1999 budget speech of the head of state, commander-in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria, general, Abdulsalami Abubarkar of 3rd of March 1999  reference, md/25/Cir./51 of 1 February 1999.”

Further clarification, they added, was made  by, the Managing Director on the examination of Cargo, “which  was clarified that is the primary responsibility of the Nigeria Customs Service, who can invite, any other Agency as considered necessary to participate , the Nigerian Police is to be invited on request, and are to protect the Cargo and personnel so  to have a peaceful operation in the port.

“Various Circulars and Memo on the reduction of security Agents, from the Head of State, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Honorable Minister of Transport, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)  and the National Facilitation Committee of (FAL/IMO), facilitate directive in to the enactment of  the  Act.”

They added that the government, in a bid to reduce the number of security agents in the ports, issued out circular that was never obeyed, which prompted the federal government under General Abdulsalami Abubakar to enact Act No. 61 of 1999.

“It was facilitated by the Inter-Ministerial Committee of National Facilitation (FAL/IMO) in line with FAL/IMO convention to Facilitate Maritime Traffic by simplifying, Minimizing and Harmonizing processes and procedure in the arrival, stay and departure of ship and cargo and the application of World Trade  Organization(WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement(TFA) World Customs Organization Kyoto Convention on the Harmonization and Simplification of Customs procedure

“The National Facilitation Committee (FAL/IMO) midwifed the process of the Port (Related offences,Etc)(Admendment) Act No. 61 of 1999, in which  National Council  of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) served as a  member, they said.

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