Customs beats retreat on VIN policy
—-grants 30- day reprieve for striking agents to clear abandoned vehicles at ports.
After sustained pressure by the determined freight forwarders, the Nigeria Customs Service has finally suspended the controversial Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy for 30 days.
The suspension was sequel to the long-drawn protests and strike action which culminated in the stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Customs authority to gauge the mood of the irate customs brokers.
In the circular titled “Approval of Grace Period To Clear Backlog Of Vehicles’ dated March 7th, 2022 and signed on behalf of Comptroller General of Customs by H.K Gummi, the Assistant Comptroller General, the reprieve period takes effect from Tuesday, March, 8th, 2022.
According to the circular with reference number NCS/T&T/ACG/008/S.100/VOL 111 and issued on Monday, the service said it has approved one month window to enable the clearing agents to clear the backlog of vehicles held up in the port as a result of the strike action.
The circular reads, “Sequel to the recent Customs, stakeholders town hall meeting held in Lagos on the VIN-Valuation, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), having listened to public outcry, has graciously approved one month window to enable clearing the backlog of vehicles held up in the ports as a result of the strike action.”
The circular addressed to all the Area Controllers of customs, said,
“Meanwhile, you are requested to ensure the uniform application of rebates for all vehicles using the correct values for your assessments.
“The VIN-Valuation protocol is still in operation as reviews and updates are being captured in our system to reflect these adjustments.”
The circular further directed all the Area Controllers to monitor the transition period and ensure manual assessments are in compliance with extant laws of the hand.
“Area Controllers are expected to monitor this transition period and ensure manual assessments are in full compliance with extant laws.
” This grace period is for one month, beginning from Tuesday 8 Mar 22.
“You are to bring the contents of this circular to your Officers and the General public for their information and guidance, please,” the CGC declared.
With this reprieve, the beleaguered freight forwarders are expected to end their strike action which entered the third week this week, and commence taking delivery of the abandoned vehicles estimated to be over 12, 000.
Alhaji Abdulaziz Babatunde, the Secretary-General of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said the decision of the Customs on the vexed issue was expected and welcomed development.
“We are not against the VIN policy as an automation process of valuation but what we have been agitating against is the mode of implementation which appropriates internet-based values on vehicles.
“Under the now-suspended VIN, the valuation method does not factor in the current state of the vehicle such as savage, millage, and depreciation level of the vehicles so much so that the suspended policy treats accidented vehicles as new in valuation.
” The policy, as it was initially designed, does not give discounted value on vehicles based on their depreciation level but generates values on the internet.
” That was our grouse” the ANLCA Chief Scribe explained.
He urged the Customs to discountenance the use of Internet-generated value on vehicles by using the period of grace to redesign the policy that will give a discounted rate to vehicles based on their depreciation level.
Abdulaziz urged the Customs brokers who have Savage certificates to go and take delivery of their vehicles at a discounted rate, using the old manual valuation method.
He observed that the customs could still get their duties with the discounted valuation system.
”With this, it is going to be a win-win situation as both parties will now resolve their differences in an amicable way without any side suffering any collateral damage”, the ANLCA Chief declared.
Comptroller Nnadi mourns death of retired customs officer, DCG Sanusi
“He passed on about an hour ago at a private hospital in Abuja. The Janaza prayers hold after the Zuhr prayers (1 pm) at the National Mosque, Abuja In Shaa Allah,”
Apapa Customs launches man hunt for fleeing importer, agent of seized Tramadol
–—hands over 20 cartons of illicit drug worth N1.4billion to NDLEA
The Eyewitness reporter
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has launched a manhunt for the fleeing importer of 20 cartons of Tramadol intercepted at the Classic Bonded Terminal, Lagos in December 2022.
The importer, who brought in the illicit drug from India, is currently on the run with his agent who attempted to clear the illicit drug said to be three times deadlier than the conventional tramadol tablets.
The Area Controller of Apapa Customs, Comptroller AB Mohammed, while handling the 20 cartoons of the seized drug to Mr Udotong Noah Essien, the Commander of Nacortics of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), Apapa Special Command, Wednesday at the Clarion Terminal, Lagos, disclosed that both the consignee and the agent could not be traced to their addresses which he said were fake.
”I am here today to hand over 20 cartons of illicit drug which belongs to the class of tramadol to the NDLEA Commander Essien for further investigation and prosecution of the suspects”
Comptroller Mohammed disclosed that the TIN number of the importer and the customs license of his agent have both been blocked but lamented that both of them gave fake addresses which make it difficult for them to be traced.
He however promised that the Customs, in collaboration with the NDLEA and other security agencies, will hunt down the fleeing suspects wherever they may be.
The Customs chief even said the suspects will be caught even if they fled the country with the aid of INTERPOL.
”We tried to trace them through their addresses but the addresses they gave were fake. We could not trace them to the addresses.
”They have been on the run and we are in search of them but sooner or later, we shall catch up with them and they will face the full wrath of the law.”
Comptroller Mohammed disclosed that the consignee concealed the drug in a jumbled mass of gummy pop sweets which he falsely declared as driving shaft and candy sweets.
He however promised to make Apapa port unconducive to the importation of illicit drugs and their traffickers, vowing to bring to bear the full weight of the law on the perpetrators.
While receiving the drugs on behalf of the Chairman of the NDLEA, Brigadier-General(rtd) Buba Marwa, Mr Udotong Noah Essien, the Commander of Nacortics of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), Apapa Special Command, lauded the efforts of the Apapa Customs command for the successes so far recorded in the war against the importation of illicit drugs through the port corridor.
He applauded the collaboration between the two agencies which he said has yielded tremendous results in curtailing the importation of drugs into the country.
The NDLEA commander promised that the agency will hunt down the fleeing suspects with the collaboration of the Customs and other relevant security agencies, adding that the agency has spread its dragnet all around the country and that the suspects cannot escape.
The seized drug is said to be a deadlier new variant of Tramadol called Trapaking tablets which has a higher potency than normal Tramadol.
The interception and seizure made at the Classic marine bonded terminal, Ago Palace Way, Festac, Lagos, exposed the novel way the importers of these illicit drugs now use to bring in the prohibited item.
It was Imported from India and is three times deadlier than the normal tramadol.
The new drug variant was in 20 cartons of 225mg of 838,500 tablets and 90,000 of 120mg tablets.
The street value of the seized item was put at N1.400 billion with each cartoon worth about N70million.
The consignment came in from India but was intercepted through intelligence and collaborative efforts of Customs officers and other sister security agencies.
The Customs operatives trailed the illicit cargo since it came into the port on July 3rd, 2022 as the importer, who initially abandoned it, was buying time and delaying its declaration in order to throw off the officers from its trail.
How terminal operators sabotage cargo scanning operations at Tin Can port
—As Customs intends to get mobile scanners to achieve total compliance
The Eyewitness reporter
The Tin can Island command of the Nigeria Customs Service has accused the terminal operators of frustrating the cargo scanning process at the port.
The Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Olakunle Oloyede, made the veiled accusation last week during his presentation of the command”s performance for 2022.
Comptroller Oloyede alleged that the terminal operators are not willing to provide trucks that will take consignments scheduled for scanning to the scanning site, thus making it difficult for the command to achieve a 100 percent compliance level by importers and their agents.
”It is a big problem for the terminal operators to bring me trucks to take the consignments to the scanning site where the fixed scanners are located”, he lamented, saying ” but customs can”t do it alone, we have to do this work together with other stakeholders, there should be a synergy to get this job done as we all agreed to work together”
”Even, if I have 10 fixed scanners at the port and the terminal operators are not willing to provide trucks to move the consignments to the scanning site, that is a problem”, he stated.
But to circumvent this human obstacle to the scanning operations, Comptroller Oloyeded revealed that the command has decided to procure mobile scanners that will be placed on the quayside to scan containers dropped from the vessels before they are taken to the stacking areas.
”What we intend to do is to buy more mobile scanners and place them at the quayside.
”As your container is dropped on the truck that will take it to the stacking area, it would be made to go through the mobile scanner at the quayside. This will make compliance level compulsory.
”This is because the mobile machines will be at the quayside where they can be moved from one end of the quayside to the other.
”Even, if I have two mobile machines, they are enough for me. We just place them side by side on the vessel and your truck we move through them.
”And the scanning will not be more than five seconds per container. I can scan up to 400 containers a day, even more, without analysis.
”I will just scan for record purposes but when it is time when the owner of the cargo is ready for the clearance process, that is when the risk management tool will tell me which of those containers I have already scanned and kept their records are going for scanning. This is when we scan and analyse.
”This is what we intend to do very very soon”, the Customs chief declared.
On the issue of customs’ failure to apply value depreciation on old cars, Oloyede said that Customs does not have data for cars older than the approved age limit of 2014.
According to him, the system has been configured in such a way as not to recognise them, but rather than outrightly reject them, that is the reason they make them pay the value of the newer cars.
He observed that in other climes, such old cars are meant to be crushed and used as raw materials for other things but lamented that in Nigeria, people still bring in cars of 2005, 2007 into the country.
”There is no data for old vehicles. They are meant to be crushed. Our system is programmed to take cognisance of government policy on the age limit of cars. Any vehicles outside the approved age limit are not recognised..
He extricated Customs from the astronomical increase in the costs of vehicles in the market, attributing the high cost to the galloping exchange rates and the dynamism of the international market.
”When we talk of value for clearance, before, what was the exchange rate, and now, what is the exchange rate? This is what has affected the cost of cars in the market.
”And on value depreciation, you can’t depreciate vehicles that you are not supposed to bring into the country. But for vehicles within the age limit of 2014, the depreciation of value is there”
He also revealed that the system has been configured in such as way that there can’t be human intervention or interference.
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