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Farinto calls for removal of Finance Minister —-says she lacks capacity to control Customs.

Eyewitness reporter
Kayode Farinto, the National Vice- President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has accused the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, of gross underperformance and lack of capacity to provide effective leadership to drive the economy.
Farinto, who is the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment, lamented that the gap in the leadership of the Minister has led to the unrestrained impunity in the Nigeria Customs service which he accused of killing trade in Nigeria.
He, therefore, called for the replacement of the Minister with a technocrat who is well versed in fiscal economic policies and has the capacity to give effective leadership to the customs authority.
“We need to rejuvenate the Federal Ministry of Finance by appointing another technocrat to move our economy forward and we need an Honorable Minister of Finance that will be able to supervise and direct the new management team of Nigeria customs service to be reconstituted.
“The first panacea to revamp our economy is to appoint a vibrant and versatile economist as Honorable Minister of Finance because the present one lacks the ability to move our economy forward at post covid – 19 pandemic”  Farinto declared.
 He lamented that the timid nature and lack of capacity of the present Minister has created a demagogue in the customs who runs the Service with arrogant impunity without recourse to the supervising Minister.
Farinto, who was speaking in his office Friday, bemoaned the lack of professionalism in the Nigeria Customs service which he said has led to the gradual erosion of the legacy of late Abdullahi Dikko, whom he said enthroned the culture of professionalism during his tenure as the CGC.
The ANLCA chieftain claimed that the rating of the Nigeria Customs has nosed- dived under the current leadership which he accused of desecrating the trade facilitation role of the customs in its inordinate pursuit of revenue generation.

Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance

Farinto, while enumerating the numerous infractions under the current leadership of the service, blamed what he called the laid-back attitude of the supervising Minister whose words, he claimed, are not respected by the CGC.
He observed that as the supervising Minister and the chairman of the Customs’ Board, Mrs Zainab Ahmed does not exert the requisite authority on the Customs’management led by Col(rtd) Hameed Ali.
The customs broker lamented that this lack of control has led to the free, unchecked, and unrestrained reign of operational impunities in the customs.
“The economy of the country is sliding to abysmal level courtesy of NCS refusal to go professional. The issue of trade facilitation has been jettisoned while importers are continually being arm twisted to pay arbitrary demand notices on imported goods” Farinto noted.
“We are bleeding and this issue has gotten to a level that younger agents may resort to self-help should this extortion by Nigeria customs officers continue.
“The recent media seizures by the Nigeria customs service needs to be investigated. We now have what is called “Audio Seizures”, since they know the CGC is ignorant, you find some Comptollers calling press conferences for Audio Seizures, i.e seizures that never existed or repeating some seizure already shown to be public few years/ months back.
” This is not only uncustoms but a disservice to the nation which requires a  probe panel.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance is shirking in its responsibility.
“The Honorable Minister of Finance has shirked her responsibility and has completely failed Nigerians. We have put up letters on several occasions to demand clarifications on certain issues as regard import guidelines and on these occasions, the ministry has failed to respond and where she does, is unable to put NCS on her toes to abide by extant laws, directives,

Hameed Ali, CGC

or policies of the Federal Government.”

Farinto however advised the government to immediately reverse the current dangerous trend in the customs by appointing a thoroughbred customs officer to head the Service which he said is presently bedeviled with uncustoms practices.

“The Federal Government must assist the economy if Nigeria will not be doomed economically, by appointing from the crop of intelligent young Comptrollers that will move the economy forward and not amongst these ones that have not only eaten the forbidden fruits but infected by the current leadership in power”

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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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