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WCO, Interpol crackdown on wildlife smugglers

—seize more than 1,000 big cats, turtles, birds in ‘operation thunder’
Eyewitness reporter
An international crackdown on smugglers of wildlife and other endangered species has led to the massive seizure of more than 1,000 big cats, turtles, and birds.
 The international trafficking operation, code names “Operation Thunder 2021” was coordinated by the World Customs Organisation and assisted by the International Police (Interpol) which involved wildlife enforcement agencies from 118 different countries.
 Sniffer dogs and x-ray scanners were used to check thousands of cargo ships, trucks, and cars.
The worldwide seizures included 75 big cat parts and 29 live big cats along with reptiles and birds.
 In Spain, more than 250,000 euros of protected items were seized. This includes turtles, items made from ivory, and parrots.
The operation ran for the whole of October and around 300 suspects were identified.

Jurgen Stock, the Interpol Secretary-General said “Organised crime networks are generating billions in illicit profits every year, at significant cost to our environment as well as the associated impacts of fraud, corruption, and violence,

“We are seeing the continued globalisation of crime, which means only an international response can be effective, as demonstrated with this latest Operation Thunder.”
“Every one of our 195 member countries has a role to play in combating this threat, either directly or in the follow-up investigations.”

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Freight Forwarders applaud Customs over new VIN valuation

—- as reworked policy comes on stream Friday
Eyewitness reporter
In a rare show of satisfaction and mutual agreement, the highly critical freight forwarders have applauded the Nigeria Customs Service over the new Vehicles Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy.
The new vehicle valuation, which was first introduced about two months ago, was greeted with uproar from the freight forwarders who described the policy as inhuman and unrealistic due to the high values it placed on vehicles.
This led to the suspension of the system by the customs authority which thereafter reworked and improved the policy by accommodating the observations and grievances of freight forwarders.
At the second stage of the demonstration and sensitization of stakeholders on the new VIN valuation held at the Apapa Customs command Thursday, the freight Forwarders were full of praises for the customs over the improved valuation system which they all agreed has addressed and accommodated their views.
“This is very good. The new VIN valuation system has accommodated all our observations, even though there is room for improvement.
“It has taken care of the savage vehicles and accidented vehicles, which the first VIN didn’t consider”, Kayode Farinto, the Acting President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and one of the most critical voices of the system, said.
Earlier, the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Command, Comptroller Malanta Yusuf, who is the host, enjoined the stakeholders to take full advantage of the automated system which he said would make goods clearance procedure seamless and faster.
While welcoming the stakeholders to the sensitization meeting, Comptroller Yusuf urged them to be compliant with the extant guidelines to enable them to enjoy the benefits of the new system.
He assured them help desk would be created in each of the commands to help resolve the teething problems that are bound to crop up, adding that there would be continuous engagement and improvement on the new valuation policy.
He told the appreciative stakeholders that the VIN valuation policy is irreversible and will be deployed this Friday, May 20th, 2022.
Comptroller Festus Okun, the Customs Area Controller of Ports Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) Command said the Customs, through the VIN valuation, has imbibed basic principles of taxation which include predictability, neutrality, simplicity, and efficiency.

Comptroller Kunle Oloyede of Tin Can Island Port,  described VIN as a platform for robust gathering of statistical analysis and data for national economic purposes relying on the template of accuracy that will further integrate NCS with other ministries, departments and agencies.

Comptroller Hammi Swomen of Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Command, who sought more cooperation from all stakeholders, stated that sincere declarations without tampering with relevant information contained in Single Goods Declaration or mismatching information will aid in quicker clearance and seamlessness of the VIN system.

Comptroller Anthony Udenze of the Tariff and Trade Department at Customs headquarters urged vehicle importers and their agents to avoid acts that would delay the process of clearing.

He explained that the process of identifying salvage and accident vehicles under the VIN regime would be very transparent as the declarant would be expected to attach photos showing the accidented vehicles.

He further explained that for vehicles to be treated as accidented, the chassis must be affected by the accident not just by removing fenders, bumpers and headlamps.

However, Farinto called for true declaration and compliance on the part of freight forwarders. w2hivh he said will facilitate their clearance of goods and also made the Customs to introduce more changes such as auto release for used vehicles.

Comptroller Yusuf promised that the issue of auto release of used vehicles, which is not yet accommodated in the new system, will be looked into by the Customs High Command.
The new improved VIN valuation policy has therefore addressed most of the major concerns of stakeholders who said they couldn’t wait to start using the system.
The new system has been given a human face as the assessed values are adjudged as fair and the process transparent by the freight forwarders.
It has also considered the two options of salvage vehicles and accidented vehicles.
It is harmonisation and unification of all the hitherto isolated different values at the commands.
According to Comptroller Udenze, the new VIN valuation considers all the variants and series of all vehicles.
The technological system, which is expected to promote trade facilitation, has also been amended to reflect the reduction in the value of vehicles..

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Freight Forwarders accuse Customs of killing Nigerians over multiple charges.

CGC, Ali
Eyewitness reporter
A section of freight forwarders has accused the Nigeria Customs Service of inflicting pains on Nigerians over the astronomical increase in its duties and tariffs.
The freight forwarders, who spoke against the high cost of products in the market, blamed the consummate passion of the customs to generate maximum revenue on the indiscriminate hike in duties and tariffs.
They claimed that this development has pushed freight charges to as high as  67 percent, resulting in increases in the prices of vehicle spare parts.
In separate interactions with journalists in Lagos, freight forwarders said they used to pay about N600, 000 to clear a 40-foot container loaded with used vehicles’ spare parts, but this had risen to over N1m for the same consignment.
A member of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Ugochukwu Nnadi, alleged that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), instead of generating revenue, was inflicting untold hardship on Nigerians with the high cost of clearing the consignment.
“If you had a 40-foot container loaded with used motor parts before now, the surface duty was N600, 000.
“Now, they have given it a benchmark of N1m at surface duty level.
“It is about 60 percent higher than what it used to be on the same goods.
” This is why engine parts are very expensive.
“Before now, you could get a used engine for around N30, 000, but you can’t get any engine now, no matter how small it is, for anything less than N100, 000.
And they are doing these things thinking they are generating revenue, but they don’t know that they are making the people poorer”, he said.
Also speaking, a member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Akintoye Ojo, said, “The prices of clearing imported car spare parts have gone up.
“The commodities in your container and the value are what determine the duty you pay.
“As a matter of fact, the Customs is increasing their values but they hide under the umbrella of freight charges and also insurance.
“For old spare parts, you can clear for less than N600, 000 before, but there is no spare parts container you can clear for less than N1.5m now”, he said.
Meanwhile, the TinCan Island chapter Chairman of the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, Geoffrey Nwaosu, explained that importers now loaded vehicles before putting used spare parts just to reduce the cost of clearing their consignments.
“Before now, it is used to be between N600, 000 for surface duty, but it is no longer like that for spare parts.
“Now, you must pay a surface duty of between N3 million and above for a 40-foot container.
“You can still pay this and still be battling with alerts since it is coming with Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).
“But it is in two ways. You can load a car or two in the same container.
” They do this to avoid going to access foreign exchange for PAAR.
” So, they will add one or two vehicles and clear the cars and the spare parts,” he added.
Charles Nwarienne, a clearing agent, said: “You see, before now,  it depended on different items.
“There were ones you would pay a surface duty N600, 000. Later, they adjusted the surface duty to N800, 000.
“We noticed the increment after the protest. The general cargo has started and it is part of the reason why we protested.”
In the same vein, the introduction of the vehicles identification number (VIN) valuation policy and the controversial 15 percent NAC levy, have combined to push the duties on clearance of vehicles to an all-time high.
This has resulted in an astronomical increase in the prices of vehicles in the market.

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Exclusive! Mass retirement hits Customs as 549 officers bow out of service in 2023

CGC, Ali


Break down; DCG( I), ACG (6),Comptrollers(30), DC(68) AC (110),CSC(133),SC (52),DSC(79) ,ASC1(58) ,ASC11(11),CA1(1)

Eyewitness reporter

A whirlwind  of retirement has hit the Nigeria Customs Service as 549 officers of different cadres have been penciled down for statutory retirement in 2023,

In a circular no HRD/2022/13 sighted by our reporter, the breakdown of the affected officers shows that 1 DCG, 6 ACG, 30 Comptrollers, 68 Deputy Comptrollers, 110 Assistant Comptrollers, 133 Chief Superintendent of Customs, 52 Superintendent of Customs, 79 Deputy Superintendents, 58 Assistant Superintendent of Customs1, 11 Assistant Superintendent of CustomsII and 1 Customs AssistantI, were due for retirement in 2023.

According to the circular dated May 10th, 2022 with reference number NCS/ADM/EST/098/S.1 and signed by OM Agbara, Comptroller of Establishment for AG. Deputy Comptroller-General (HDR), the affected officers, who are being shipped out of the service on account of age or number of years in the service, are advised to proceed on three months pre-retirement leave, three months to the effective date of their retirement.

The circular titled list of Officers/men for statutory retirement in the year 2023” reads

”I am directed to forward the attached list on the above subject matter as pre-retirement notice to all affected officers.
” ln accordance with the Public service Rule (PSR) No. 100238 and Federal Government circular No.63216/S.i/X/T; CR 1,/2OO1/5 of 2O/O3/2OOl, all affected officers due for retirement in 2023 are to disengage from the active service and proceed on three (3)months pre-retirement leave, three months to the effective date of retirement.
” AII affected officers are to ensure compliance and forward their three months pre-retirement notice to the Comptroller-General
” Any observed error, omission, or legitimate complaints should be forwarded to the office of the Comptroller General of Customs through the Ag. Deputy Comptroller-General (HRD) on or before 30th June 2022.
” Zonal Coordinators, Area Controllers, and Unit Heads are requested to make the list available for circulation to all the affected officers in their respective Zones, Areas, and Units
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