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Customs

Customs raises alarm over attempt to turn Nigeria into illegal wild life transit point

CGC, Ali
—- as agency intercepts another  N1.7bn Pangolin Scales in Lagos
Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has raised the alarm over an attempt by members of a syndicate to turn Nigeria into a transit point for trafficking of illegal endangered wild life.
The service expressed its worries yesterday in Lagos while displaying another consignment of intercepted pangolin scales worth about N1.7billion.
The latest interception and seizure, which was carried out by the CGC Strike Force, Zone A, Lagos, came bearly two months after a similar seizure of the same specie worth N22billion was intercepted.
Pangolin scales belong to the group of illegal wild life trade which contravenes Section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA Cap 45 LFN 2004  and Nigeria is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
While displaying the latest catch, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), lamented that Nigeria has become a transit point for the smuggling of pangolin scales to other parts of the world.
He, however, said that investigations is ongoing to reveal the country of origin and destination for the pangolin scales.
Ali who was represented by Customs National Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, alleged international collaboration in the trafficking of the wild life.
“It’s my pleasure to brief you on the success story of the Nigeria Customs Service ongoing crackdown on illegal wild life trade.
”Even though, this criminality is not essentially a Nigerian thing, sadly some foreigners with active connivance of few Nigerians are bent on using our dear country as a transit route for illegal wild life trade.”
“You will recall that Nigeria Customs Service, acting on credible intelligence provided by our international partners about two months ago, announced wild life seizure worth over N22bn with arrested suspects currently facing prosecution.
“In the course of further investigation to arrest other members of the gang, we received another credible intelligence from same international partner, Wild Life Justice Commission, and swiftly deployed our intelligence operatives with the Strike Force as a SWOT team. This led to the interception of One Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.”
The Customs boss said two suspects, including a foreigner, was arrested in connection to the seizure and would soon be charged to court.
“Upon 100 percent examination, the bus was found to contain the following: Pangolin Scales by 60kg, Pangolin Scales by 35kg, Pangolin Scales by 54kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 66kg, Pangolin Scales by 58kg, Pangolin Scales by 50kg, Pangolin Scales by 73kg, Pangolin Scales by 61kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 92kg, Pangolin Scales by 89kg, Pangolin Scales by 60kg, and Pangolin Scales by 92.5kg, totalling 1,009.5kg of Pangoling scales plus one sack of Pangolin Claws by 5kg.”
“The Duty Paid Value of the entire seizure cumulates at N1,7billion. Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with this Seizure. They are Mr. Salif Sanwidi and Mr. Sunday Ebenyi. They will also be charged to court to answer for their crime.”
“As responsible member of the global community, we cannot allow our nation to be used as a conduit pipe for illegal trade on wild life. We remain committed to the quarterly meeting with embassies of USA, UK and Germany and welcome on board other International organizations that are joining the fray.”
 However, an official of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Oluyemi Babajide who represented the focal point for CITES, said at the completion of the prosecution processes, the seizures will be handed over to Nigeria Environmental Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
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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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