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Customs

CTN as panacea for insecurity,  importation of contraband goods through ports.

Since the collapse of scanners at the nation’s  seaports and land borders,  the Nigeria Customs Service has been using manual method(100 percent examination)  to inspect cargoes but experts believe that  re-introduction of CTN at the ports would minimise the high incidence of insecurity through curbing of importation of arms and ammunitions through our ports into the country.

Eyewitness reporter writes

In 2015, the Nigerian Shippers Council was desirous to re-introduce the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) into the nation’s maritime industry.

But this was met with stiff opposition especially from local Manufacturers who thought it will add to cost of doing business at the ports.

But, the  Council at that time was interested in the overall national security and safety of Nigerians because it is believed that the CTN will help check importation of arms, ammunition and hazardous materials into the country.

Two years after the council bowed to pressure and suspended the laudable projects, arms and ammunitions were being imported freely into the country but few are being intercepted in and outside the nation’s seaports, a situation the council want to avert through the CTN but was thwarted by stakeholders.

For instance,  in January 2017, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) intercepted 49 boxes containing 661 pieces of pump action rifles.

The ammunitions were intercepted by officers of the federal operations unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, in a Mark truck with registration number BUG 265 XG, the 40 feet container with number; PONU/825914/3 along Mile 2 Apapa Road, in Lagos.

Thee boxes were concealed with steel and other merchandise goods.

Also in  May,  2017, another 440 pump action rifles were intercepted at the Tin Can Island Command, Lagos.

According to the then Zonal Co-ordinator of the Zone, Monday Abue, the cargo was shipped into the country from Turkey and concealed in POP.

On the 7th of September, 2017 another 1,100 rifles were further intercepted in a 20ft container  with No GESU2555208 during examination, while the Bill of Lading falsely indicated wash hand basins and water closets.

A week after, another container with about 475 pump action rifles with container number, CMAU189817/8 carrie about 475 pump action rifles.

However,  2018 was not spared as the Customs Service intercepted live ammunitions at the Tin-Can island port.

The Tin-Can Island Command of the service said the live ammunitions were concealed in a vehicle and container at the Lagos Port.

It was gathered that the interception were done in two different operations on the 9th and 10th of July respectively.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the command, Uche Ejiesieme , the first incident at the Terminal ‘C’, involved 1 x 40ft container No. TGHU 60143419, which on scheduled examination was found to contain 150 rounds of live ammunition and jack knives while  149 rounds of 38mm calibre live ammunition, 92 rounds of 9mm calibre live ammunition, 2 rounds Of 7.62MM calibre live ammunition,  11 cartridges of live ammunition,12 expenses empty shells of various calibre and one empty magazine were uncovered in another vehicle.”

This is part of the few interceptions that were made by the service while  many more may have eluded the eagle eye of the customs service.

But, stakeholders have argued that the CTN, if it had been  implemented in 2015 ,would have detected the contrabands before it was loaded on vessels to Nigeria.

Even,  the Central Bank of Nigeria agreed that the CTN would not only checkmate under declaration and share trade information but will also assist the Nigeria Customs Service to risk mitigation on imports, enhance and block revenue leakages at the ports.

Speaking, a frontline Importer, Ikechukwu Shedrack ,said the CTN would serve as a security measure to ensure safety and security of goods shipped from one part of the world to another.

“It is meant to be implemented worldwide. The regulation requires shippers to have a Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) accompanying all shipments.

“The CTN will help enhance security at a time Nigerian government is have difficulties in replacing obsolete scanners at the ports. It will give information of cargoes to be imported even before loading and it will help know what should be imported and what not to be imported into the country, especially if it were to be arms and ammunitions it will be intercepted at point of loading”

“Aside under declaration, the CTN will also bring trade information.

Research had also shown that the CTN, when reintroduced, is different from the old ways of monitoring cargoes as it has four distinct features from the previous tracking device.

It is noteworthy that, as can be seen from the agreement, four important features distinguish the current ICTN Scheme from the abolished version.

That is, the current scheme will be implemented at no cost to the shipper/consignee, at all and the current scheme is web based and therefore paperless,thus making the delay associated with obtaining Cargo Tracking Note and associated documentation by Shippers, under the abolished version of the scheme completely eliminated as the shipper needs not do anything apart from declaring in advance (i.e. at the loading port), information relating to the cargo.

Also,  the one hundred and fifty dollars ($150) per container CTN fee charged under the abolished version, paid by the shippers, which led to the stakeholders vehement protest against the scheme and its eventual abolishment, was radically modified and reduced to a token administrative fee of twenty five dollars ($25) per container, thereby making it the lowest in our West and Central African Sub-region.

This became necessary not only in view of Nigeria’s volume of trade but also to substantially downplay the insinuated revenue generation motive of the old version of the scheme in favour of the actual and more important Trader Information Generation motive which has tremendous potential to impact positively on the nation’s effort in Trade Facilitation, National Planning and National Security;

The NSC-TPMS Sharing Ration of the collectible Administrative fee was negotiated and reviewed from 60-40, under the abolished scheme, to 65-35 thereby raising the share accruable to the government.

Also,  all vessels loading and unloading or in transit (Export/Import and Transit) departing from Nigeria Ports or having Nigerian Ports as final destination or transiting through Nigerian ports shall, before any movement, obtain a Movement Reference Number (MRN).

The MRN will be allocated to the vessels by Nigerian Shippers’ Council irrespective of the origin of the vessel of cargoes.

 The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Barr. Hassan Bello had then disclosed that the CTN would be reintroduced to help curb importation of arms and ammunition into the country.

He said, “The Cargo Tracking Note would soon be reintroduced at a very negligible cost. CTN is a security thing because when we have it, there won’t be smuggling of firearms and all other contrabands.

” Smuggling of contraband won’t happen because everything coming in will be tracked, we will know the weight of the cargo, values and materials used.”

Bello stated further that the CTN would also help the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to fight substandard products and fake drugs respectively.

 “SON and NAFDAC will benefit by knowing whether products being imported are fake or not.

“I am calling on all the port stakeholders such as manufacturers, shippers and the rest to support this. That is why the Nigerian Shippers Council wants to develop the port community system because what the port needs is unity.

” There is need for everyone to come together on a platform to know what the other is doing. It is good for data collection for planning and for you to know your customers,” said Bello.
But the desire of the Shippers’Council to reintroduce the controvesial CTN was not to be at that period as it  was again aborted as stakeholders effectively shut down the move despite the efforts of the council to convince them.
But the country may once again have a shot at the CTN few years after  it was shot down by the sceptical stakeholders.
Following the resurgence of insecurity in the country which has assumed a verocious dimension, the Federal government has asked the Nigerian Shippers’Council to resuscitate the move to reintroduce the controvesial CTN to track all imports in order to identify and curtail importation of arms and ammunitions into the country through the ports.
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Customs

Customs collects N1.7trn  revenue in 8 months

CGC, Ali

 

–embarks on aggressive revenue hunts to meet target

The Eyewitness reporter

The Nigeria Customs Service has collected a whooping sum of  N1,755,386,486,390.02  as revenue in the first eight months of the year spanning January and August.

The service made the highest monthly earnings of N241,903,781,854.46 in August as the service intensifies its aggressive revenue drive to meet the expectations of the Federal Government which has come to rely on the revenue from the service to fund its critical project.

This follows the diversification of government to non-oil sectors and expands its tax base due to the dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
The revenue in the first eight months of 2022 is N363,436,321,614.95 higher than N1,391,950,164,775.97 the customs collected in the corresponding period of 2021.

Abuja has increased its focus on non-oil revenue sources, prompting higher expectations from revenue collection agencies such as the NCS, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), among others.

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Customs

Why we adopted direct auction sale for scrap vehicles—-Customs

seized vehicles waiting to be auctioned

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has explained the reason why it recently disposed of scrap vehicles under its control through the direct auction sale method.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of the Service, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, explained that no sane person could purchase those damaged vehicles for use except those who melt them into metal as raw materials.
” Yes, the vehicles we auctioned through direct sales were all scraps. They are vehicles used by smugglers which are purposely built for their nefarious activities.
“These vehicles are damaged beyond repairs and the service could not upload such vehicles on its auction portal to the general public.
“That was why we sold them directly at very ridiculously low prices to iron smelting companies who will melt them into iron.
“These vehicles litter all our commands in the country and are constituting an environmental nuisance.
“So we needed to evacuate them from those places for the safety of our officers who are constantly being faced with the danger of attacks from snakes and other dangerous reptiles which hide under the cover of these scrap vehicles”, Bomodi declared.
He said his explanation was meant to clarify what he described as false information and misconception being peddled to the public by auctioneers.
The auctioneers have accused the Customs of branding about 6000 seized vehicles as scraps before selling them off at cheap prices to their cronies.
The aggrieved auctioneers have further claimed that the Customs conducted the auction of the vehicles without open competitive bidding as it’s enshrined in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act, 2007.
“So far, about 6,000 vehicles have been sold to their cronies through the so-called direct auction allocation.
“The vehicles, which could have fetched the government huge revenue, were sold as scraps at giveaway prices.

“We all know that it is a ploy to enrich their favoured contractors at the expense of the government.

” The government is being denied the revenue it would have realised from open competitive auctions.
” If this government is serious, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali should be answering tough questions from either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the National Assembly by now,” the Auctioneers claimed.
They further alleged that instead of selling the confiscated goods through public auctions as mandated by the law, the NCS had been selecting the dealers it sells to.
“What the BPP Act says
Section 55 (3) (5) of the BPP Act stipulates that open competitive bidding shall be the primary source of receiving offers for the purchase of any public property offered for sale.
“For the purposes of this Act, public property is defined as resources in the form of tangible and non-tangible assets (ranging from serviceable to the unserviceable).

“According to a letter from the NCS to a company, AMEX West Africa Limited and dated March 25, 2022, with reference number: NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.2/C, signed by the Chairman, Direct Disposal of Scraps Committee, Comptroller A.D Sanusi, titled, ‘Direct auction allocation of scrap vehicles and other items,’ it was indicated therein that 338 vehicles were sold for N3,380,000 through direct auction allocation in Abuja.
It read, ‘’I am directed to inform you that the Comptroller-General of Customs, acting on the provisions of Customs and Exercise Management (Disposal of goods) Act, CAP C46, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, hereby allocates the under-listed 338 lots of various scrap vehicles domiciled at Katsina State Area Command to your company as auction sales for the purpose of disposal, smelting and fabrication into raw materials for production valued at N3,380,000 only.

“All vehicles disposed of must be evacuated from the premises within 10 working days after payment or risk forfeiture.

” Furthermore, you are to note the following: Application for replacement of allocated vehicles would not be entertained. All allocation letters transferred or sold by the allottee to a third party shall be at the buyer’s risk.’’
However, Bomodi stated that the auctioneers were only being mischievous and clever by half in their claims as the vehicles auctioned through the direct disposal method were actually scraps and not branded as such.
He disclosed that Customs still conducts open bidding auction exercises on its auction portal.
“The last time we conducted the auction of serviceable vehicles on our portal was early this year and another round of the exercise will soon be conducted” he disclosed.

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Customs

Anger, frustration among freight forwarders as government increases Customs exchange rate again

CGC, Ali
The Eyewitness reporter
There was a wild wave of anger, despondence and frustration among the freight forwarders Monday as they were slammed with yet another increase in the Customs exchange rate.
Our reporter gathered that Customs brokers woke up Monday to find a new exchange rate on the Customs portal, different from the one left there last Friday.
From the screenshot of the portal shared with our reporter, the rate has been increased from $409 to  $422. 3, a difference of $13.
Confirming the increment, Mrs Onome Monije, the Public Relations officer of the Tin Can chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said the change in the exchange rate was dumped on the agents without any prior notice.
Mrs Monije declared that the increment would automatically lead to higher costs in goods clearance and the value of goods in the market.
While absolving Customs of any blame since “they were merely implementing government fiscal policy as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)”, she however appealed to the authority to always give freight forwarders prior notice of such changes.
The ANLCA chieftain admonished her colleagues not to cut corners but intimate their importers of the new development in order to comply with the new changes in the customs exchange rate.
However,  there was angst among a cross-section of freight forwarders who expressed frustration and disappointment over the latest increase.
They expressed anger that it has become a normal practice by the government cum Customs to slap such increases on them without prior notice.
They feared that the latest increase will further lead to astronomical increases in the cost of clearance, especially vehicles, which costs, they said, have already been jerked out of reach of average Nigerians.
According to Onome, the increment will result in a minimum of an additional 40,000 on a single small vehicle while it will result in a minimum of N100, 000 or more on a big vehicle whose clearing cost prior to now, is over a million.
She said the additional cost will be graduated depending on the volume of the consignment.
The new change, which has already taken immediate effect, may lead to a momentary delay or sluggishness in clearance procedure as the importers and their agents may have to adjust to the new reality.
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