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AfCFTA Secretary-General solicits support of Nigeria Customs for implementation of continental trade agreement


—lauds automation system of the service as  world-class

Eyewitness reporters

The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) has declared that the expertise and experience of the Nigeria Customs Service are critical to the successful implementation of the continental trade agreement.

Mr. Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of the Continental trade body disclosed this Wednesday when he led a team from the secretariat of the Continental trade at Accra, Ghana to the Apapa Customs Command.

The AfCFTA Scribe and his entourage were in the Apapa command to seek firsthand information on the automation process of the Nigeria Customs service.

Mr Mene and his entourage, who were taken through a practical demonstration of the automation process by the Apapa Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, were full of praises for the advanced form of automation process of the Nigeria Customs Service which he said they were ready to learn and adopt as a model for other African countries, some of which he said their Customs operations are still in a primitive level.

”We cannot implement the agreement without the Customs authorities. We cannot leave the implementation to the policy people in the ministries of trade. We need the Customs authorities as the pillar of successful implementation of the trade agreement.” he said.

He revealed that the Secretariat has hosted five meetings in Accra of the heads of Customs in Africa where they were asked for their support and input on how to implement the trade agreement.

”Without their involvement, we cannot succeed” he reiterated.

Earlier, Comptroller Yusuf, in a slide show, explained the automation and digitalisation process of Customs operations and how it evolved from 1998 with the ACYCUDA project and how it went through a different transformation to the present level of enhanced automation level that has made Customs processes seamless, faster, quicker.

He also discussed the trade facilitation process at the Customs, especially at the Apapa command which is the flagship of the Nigeria Customs service.

This was followed by a physical demonstration by taking the AfCFTA team to the CPC and the APMT .

An apparently impressed AfCFTA Secretary-General said Nigeria has a world-class automation process which the Secretariat will adopt as a model for other less endowed countries, some of which Customs operations are still manually done.

”My assessment is that the Nigeria Customs automation system is a top-class system, it is digital, it is automated. It is world-class.

”As I earlier mentioned, sometimes we mention Singapore and Dubai but we have our own success story here on the continent, particularly when it comes to digital systems.

”So I congratulate the Nigeria Customs service for all of the technological innovations to move ahead and take the lead.

”There are others who simply don’t have the system, we will have to meet them up to make sure all of us are at the same level of automation”

”Different countries in the continent are in different levels of automation and that is a problem because it means that our systems are not speaking to one another.

”Our responsibility is to think about how to develop a system to bring us to the same level, and that is what we learned that Nigeria is moving ahead in automation and digitalisation.

”As a secretariat, our role therefore will be to create a system or encourage an automation system that all customs authorities can have confidence in.

”There would be challenges, some countries will not be ready,  while some counties will say they have challenges with the internet, with the borders, we should expect there would be these challenges.

”But I think if we invest in soft infrastructures, and digital systems that will make a trade to be faster, more efficient, and quicker at affordable rates, that is exactly what we should be striving for.

”There are different levels of automation. Some countries simply don’t have it. It is still manual, everything is done by hand.

”So all of the systems that Nigeria Customs have, we cannot say all African countries have them. So we have to make sure we learn from those who have the system and we roll out the models of such systems they have introduced as you have done here in Nigeria and make sure they use this automation and our systems inter- operatable so that if you are trading goods from Ghana to Togo, Togo to Benin, Benin to Nigeria, Nigeria to Niger, that is a seamless system and that is going to take investing, it will require resources.

”That is not the concern of Nigeria, that has to be our concern at the Secretariat to make sure we mobilise resources for a customs system that is automated for the African continent.

”It may not happen next month or this year but we have to make sure we do it in the next three to four years mobilising these investments”, he declared`

Mr Mene disclosed that the objective of their visit is to learn the operations of the Nigeria Customs Service as his team has done in other African countries they have visited.

According to him, this will enable the Secretariat effectively integrate all Customs operations in African countries into AfCFTA implementation if they were to meet the target set by the African Heads of states that trade within the African continent should double by 2035.

He further disclosed that there are three annexes that are critical to the successful implementation of the trade agreement.

These include trade facilitation, Customs procedures and transit of goods.

He said that is the reason why the involvement of the customs authorities in the continent is vital to the success of AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA scribe, therefore, congratulated Nigeria for its invaluable contributions to the continental trade agreement.

”I congratulate Nigeria for being an active participant in the rule of origin negotiations as well as the Heads of Customs authorities.

”We value your contributions to AfCFTA. We need your experience and expertise for the successful implementation of the trade agreement” he declared.





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News Alert: Wale Adeniyi revives CG conference, holds 2023 edition December 13-15 in Lagos.

Wale Adeniyi, CGC
The Eyewitness Reporter
After 11 years of interregnum in the annual Comptroller General of Customs conference, Adewale Adeniyi, the Customs boss, has announced the rescucitation of the annual conference which holds December, this year.
In the social media broadcast, Adeniyi said he was delighted to announce that the 2023 CG Conference will hold from December 13th- 15th, 2023 at the Grand Africa Ballroom of the prestigious Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The theme of this year’s conference, according to the CGC, is “Leveraging Data Analytics for Secure and Efficient Trade Facilitation in Customs Operations”.
The Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, is expected as the special guest of honour while the Governor of Lagos state, Mr Babajide Sanwo- Olu and the Minister of Finance and the coordinating minister of Economy, Wale Edun, are also expected to grace the occasion.
Adeniyi stated that this year’s conference will centre around the discussion on implementing new measures to enhance service operations, championing secure and efficient operations across the federation.
“In line with my efforts and that of my management team to modernize the Nigeria Customs service through leveraging technology-driven Customs to shape the future of our operations, I am inviting you to this year’s Comptroller General Conference scheduled for 13tg to 15th December 2023 at the Grand Ballroom, Continental Hotel, Lagos.
” The theme of this year’s conference is Leveraging Data Analytics for Secure and Efficient Trade Facilitation in Customs Service.
” We are embracing innovation, utilizing the power of analytics to ensure the security and efficiency of Customs Operations.
“This significant event will centre around discussion on implementing new measures to enhance the service operations, championing secure and efficient operations across the federation.
“It will serve as a platform for attracting new business stakeholders to our shore.
” Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of this renewed hope experience as we consolidate on the achievements of the past, collaborate with our stakeholders and of course, bring in innovation to drive Customs Operations.
“The conference will be graced by esteemed guests, including the Vice-President, Senator Kashim Shettima as the special guest of honour, the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Finance Minister, Wale Edun” the CGC announced.
The CG conference is a platform for interaction where customs reviews its past operations and project for the future.
The last conference was held in 2012 in Katsina state.
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Adeniyi seeks Senate support to enhance Customs’ automation process

The Eyewitness Reporter 
The Nigeria Customs Service has sought the intervention of the National Assembly Senate Committee on Customs to address its core needs by providing modern tools for the complete automation of its operations to enhance trade facilitation and revenue generation.
Comptroller-General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi made this plea on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at the Senate Wing, National Assembly, Abuja. He emphasized that this call underscores the Customs Service’s commitment to fostering economic growth, job creation, and dynamic trade relations.
Regarding the Senate Committee’s interest in doubling the NCS’s efforts in revenue generation, CGC Adeniyi emphasized, “not only introducing them but also standardizing them to enhance Customs’ clearance processes, revenue generation, which will be a better experience for both Customs administration and stakeholders.”
He recalled the initiation of the automation process by the Nigeria Customs Service in the late 1990s when it purchased modern gadgets, including computers and software, as part of the Service’s efforts to introduce computerization processes.
Discussing the concession issue, CGC Bashir Adeniyi highlighted some of the objectives of the Nigeria Customs Service’s requests to automate its operations. “The first major objective of the consortium was to provide an end-to-end ICT platform to digitalize procedures and processes.
The second one is to look at the present infrastructure and update it in line with international standards, ranking amongst the best in the world.” He noted.
He explained that the third objective was to provide technology-based solutions to address challenges faced by the Service, emphasizing, “The last part is the general organization of our infrastructure to provide the tools needed that will be associated with these objectives, deliverables, and part of deliverables first is to build a Unified Customs Management System.”
CGC Adeniyi further explained to the committee members, “The system needs to process the traditions of goods that will provide electronic party systems for the Service whereby its entire processes would be automated.”
He added, “The conditions of the non-intrusive inspection system include provisions, revisions of cargo tracking systems, intelligent gates, new infrastructure, like a data center to build the capacity of officers because it is essential in the last phase of the project.”
Speaking on the Service’s strategic approach to enhancing trade and ensuring smooth businesses for local traders, CGC Adeniyi urged the Senators to actively support local business people in exporting items, emphasizing that such a perspective shift could significantly contribute to boosting Nigeria’s economy and play a pivotal role in job creation.
Responding to the Chairman Committee’s call on the Service to double efforts in revenue generation, CGC Adeniyi highlighted some measures that should be adopted to achieve giant strides. He added, “If we properly monitor the impact of these kinds of instruments, they do not represent an absolute loss to the economy.”
He also mentioned that adopting these measures would create jobs for Nigerians, enhance tax payments, attract investors, and rejuvenate industrial sectors, which, according to him, would not be a loss for the economy.
In response, Senator Muhammad Sani, the Chairman of the Committee, commended Adeniyi for the strides made in revenue generation.
Expressing optimism, Senator Sani asserted that the Nigeria Customs Service, with its recent revenue records, appeared poised to multiply its financial contributions—an imperative for the country given its current economic needs.
He said, “By encouraging a more balanced approach, the aim is to empower local businesses through increased attention to export initiatives, aligning with a broader vision for a sustainable economic landscape.”
A similar interactive session with the Procurement Committee from the House of Representatives shed light on the financial commitments of the Nigeria Customs Service.  However,  discussions were postponed to another date.
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News Alert: Six Tin Can Customs officers reject $54,330 Tramadol bribe money 

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, has commended the six officers of the command who refused to be compromised with the mouth-watering amount of $54,330( about N50 million) by drug dealers who tried to smuggle in a consignment of Tramadol through the Tin Can Island port.
While handing over the bribe money this Tuesday, November 28th, 2023, to the Lagos Zonal Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , Mr. Michael Wetkas, Comptroller Nnadi reiterated the zero tolerance for corruption stance of the Comptroller General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi.
 The Tramadol was falsely declared as electrical appliances valued at over N856m with a view to concealing them while the cash was offered to compromise the customs officers.
Nnadi said the act was in clear violation of Section 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCAA) 2023 and commended the officers who stood their grounds to work ethically and lawfully in the interest of national security
He further called for continuous compliance on the part of port users and reminded them that the NCS with the collaboration of sister agencies like EFCC will continue to frustrate criminal activities in the port
Nnadi thanked Comptroller Oloyede, who under his watch, this seizure was achieved and described him as a good example of the NCS.
He said the two suspects arrested in connection with the two containers are currently being investigated by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control for possible prosecution.
Mr. Michael Wekas, while taking over the cash, described the feat as a victory for the country and for all the security agencies.
He specifically celebrated the officers of the NCS that achieved it.
Wetkas also lauded the  Comptroller General for the letter of commendation in appreciation of the six customs officers who refused to bow to pressure and inducement from the owners of the illicit drugs.
He promised continued collaboration between the EFCC, NCS and sister agencies.
 According to him, the era of working without collaboration is gone as the agencies now work closer
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