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Customs introduction of logbook for vehicle clearance: recipe for confusion, corruption —-Farinto warns

Eyewitness reporter
Kayode Farinto, the Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), has condemned the introduction of the use of logbook by the Nigeria Customs Service for the clearance of vehicles at the nation’s ports.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had in a circular dated April 23, 2021, and signed by the Deputy Comptroller General (T&T) TM Isa,  states that Log Book is now a mandatory requirement for the clearance of used vehicles.
The new clearance policy has generated heated arguments among freight Forwarders, most of whom regarded the directive as archaic, medieval, retrogressive, and analog.
Lending his voice to the mounting criticism of the policy, Farinto warned of unsavory consequences of the new policy which he described as obnoxious.
In Lagos, the renowned industry critic, speaking yesterday expressed fears that the new policy will engender corruption among the customs officers and preponderance of forged log books among freight Forwarders.
According to him, the logbook has since been outdated and may be difficult to get as most of the tokunbo vehicles which come into the country may not have this logbook because of the long years of use by different owners.
This, he claimed, will create an avenue for customs officers to extort as they will insist on the logbook.
In like manner, Farinto declared that freight forwarders will resort to forging the book in a desperate attempt to comply with the policy.
A visibly angry freight forwarder wondered why the customs High Command should take the country back to the dark age of logbook in this modern age of the use of VIN to determine the age, make, manufacture date, and everything one needs to know about a vehicle.
He sneered at the competence and level of exposure of the customs authority to introduce a 1971 law in 2021.
Farinto advised the customs authority to withdraw the circular, which he claimed will create untold confusion as 70 percent of vehicles may carry logbooks written in foreign languages.
He declared that late Abdullahi Dikko, the immediate past CGC who was widely regarded as the architect of modern Customs, will turn in his grave at the laughable policy the Hameed Ali- led Customs has foisted on the trading public.
The ANLCA Chieftain, therefore, called for the review of the Customs and Excise and Management Act (CEMA) given its outdated sections and in a bid to reflect the modern realities in customs operations.
“I know that the relevant sections of the law quoted by the DCG were enacted in 1971 and it says if you are going to clear any vehicle in seaport, you must have what is called a logbook.

“The relevance of having the logbook then was to ascertain the model of the vehicle and year of manufacture.

“However, over the years in Customs operations viz a viz; WCO procedure, a lot of things have been put in place to ascertain the manufacturer, the year of manufacture and the body of the vehicle, and that thing is called VIN or title of the vehicle.

“70 percent of the logbook are not even written in English because they actually emanate from vehicles that are coming from Europe.

“If you recollect, a few weeks back, I said Customs is encouraging corruption because we do not have a uniform tariff on imported vehicles. And that necessitated this circular on the logbook. I still want to say that Customs is not getting it right.

“One of the seven key principles of Customs harmonisation, which was given to them by the former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko, is, if you are confused, consult your colleagues.

“Ordinarily, what this DCG who issued the circular on the logbook should have done was to consult his colleagues to look at what it is in line with the international best practice.

“If the WCO hears that Nigeria Customs Service is asking for logbook in this 21st century, it would become a laughing matter. We do not want Nigeria to be a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

“We advise Customs to look inward to withdraw the circular and advise itself so that there would be a better sense of direction.

“The issue of the logbook is an outdated thing, which is no more in practice around the world, 70 percent of the logbook are in a European language, which could be in German or Dutch language.

“Logbook actually emanated when Nigeria was doing importation through European countries. Now importation from Nigeria is beyond European nations. Nigeria now imports from China, America, and India.”

Meanwhile, the circular issued by the NCS gave a 90- day period after which the implementation and enforcement of the directive will commence.

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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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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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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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