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Customs

Customs in the eye of the storm

CGC, Ali
—-as FG now relies on Customs revenue to pay salary

The eyewitness reporter

The push for higher Customs revenue by the Federal government will become harder in the coming years as Nigeria Customs Service has now become a cash cow for the government which currently relies on the duties and taxes collected by the agency to fund its recurrent expenditure, especially the payment of salaries for federal civil servants and other expenditures.

The focus on the customs revenue followed the dwindling revenue from oil, which has been the mainstay of the economy.
To worsen the matter, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited said it will no longer make remittances into the federation account due to its metamorphosis into a business venture.
The development was confirmed by Festus Keyamo, the Minister of state for Labour and Employment, who bemoaned the dwindling revenue of the Federal Government.
According to him, to make up for the lost revenue from oil, the government has now turned its attention to the Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other agencies in the non-oil sectors of the economy.

Keyamo made the statement recently at the unveiling of The Progressives Forum at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

“NNPC is no longer remitting money into FAAC.

“I hope you know that? All the money they earn goes into subsidies.

“So the government have to rely on revenue from customs, FIRS and others to pay salaries and carry out some other activities.

“Go and check the gas prices in the US and UK. They have gone up more than four or five times, even in oil-producing countries,” he said.

This development has therefore put Nigeria Customs under intense pressure to maximize its revenue collection.
As a result, operators in the Nigerian Ports industry, especially the importers, have come under a heavy burden of customs’ rejigged revenue machinery which has now been primed into a ruthless motion of maximally collecting revenue for the government.
Also, other agencies of government in the maritime industry such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have been turned into revenue collecting bodies as they are now mandated to remit a certain percentage of their earnings into the coffers of the cash -strapped Federal Government, more than ever before.
This stance negates the mandates of these two regulatory agencies whose core functions are regulatory in nature with less emphasis on revenue generation.
Industry watchers however expressed fears that importers and their agents would bear the brunt of the new role of the Customs as the new cash cow for the federal government, replacing the NNPC whose remittances to the federal government coffers accounted for about 90 percent of the Federal purse.

 Mele Kyari, the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) on July 29th, 2022, has said that the Corporation would no longer remit money to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee for sharing to the three tiers of government monthly.

He hinged the decision on the latest transition of the corporation from a public corporation to a limited liability company, adding that all monetary arrears to the committee were owed by the old corporation and not the new oil company.

Importers and their agents have now been advised to brace up for harder revenue hunts by the Customs which will further place them under financial pressure that will translate into meeting the annual geometric rise in the revenue targets for the Customs.
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Customs

Alleged cross- border smuggling of fuel: Fate of detained Customs officer uncertain — summoned, detained in Abuja

Owombo Segun John, the detained Customs officer
The Eyewitness reporter
The Customs officer, Owombo Segun John, who in a viral video last week, squealed  on alleged cross-border smuggling of refined petroleum products, with alleged official connivance, has been moved to the Customs headquarters in Abuja on the order of the Comptroller General of Customs,  Col. Hammed Ali(rtd) rt
According to Customs sources, the Customs officer, Owombo Segun, reportedly intercepted some fuel-laden tankers which allegedly wanted to cross to Cameroon, on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022 but released the viral video of the incident on the 9th November, the following Wednesday.
Due to the viral video in which the customs officer alleged official connivance and threat to life, he was promptly arrested on the order of his supervising Controller Adesanmi Omiye in charge of Federal Operations Unit(FOU) Zone D, Adamawa, where the officer was attached to.
However, the source claimed that the officer, who has already been detained by his supervising Controller since November 9th, 2020, having been adjudged as of unsound mind by the Customs authority, was transferred to the Abuja headquarters on Monday, November 14th, 2022 on the order of the CGC.
Confirming the transfer of the officer to Abuja, DC Timi Bomodi, the Customs National Public Relations Officer, said this was to conduct further investigation and possibly to meet with the CGC while in detention.
“Yes, he has been transferred to Abuja for further investigation” declared Bomodi.
He queried the motive of the officer involved in the episode, adding that further investigation will reveal his real reason.
“I want the public to interrogate the motive of the officer and disregard his allegations of threat to life.
”The incident where he arrested the tankers drivers who have valid documents to show they wanted to discharge their products to the petrol stations within the Nigerian territory, happened on Wednesday, November 2nd but he did the video on November 9th, 2022.
“If they wanted to eliminate him as he claimed, he could have been killed between the 2nd when the incident happened and the 9th, when he released the video.
”He also failed to report to his supervisor of his discovery, if he had a genuine motive or he is of sound mind.
”Why didn’t he also report to the headquarters his findings?
”Neither did he report to any of the security agencies which any rational thinking- officer could have done in such a circumstance.
”He didn’t take any of these rational options of reporting the case but chose to make a video of the incident in incoherent words while he was half naked” declared Bomodi.
He said that the initial investigation into the matter has revealed so much information which he claimed will shock the public when it is released.
Bomodi said he could not say anything about the fate of the officer until the final investigation which will determine his real motive and fate
However, one of the siblings of the detained officer dismissed customs’ claim that Owombo Segun is of unsound mind
“My brother is a very brilliant man. Someone that was posted to Adamawa and has been working there since, how can you now say he is insane? That is a lie. They are just trying to cover up.”
“The claim that he was found naked is also not true. He told me that immediately after he released the video, he was attacked by some customs officers and tanker drivers. He even told me that if he is allowed, he has some evidence to back up his claim,” he added.
Bomodi however wondered why the said officer, whom he said has been operating for the past two years at Malabo Checkpoint on Belel Road, Adamawa state,  has not come out with such findings which he bandied in the viral video.
“The state in which this officer depicted himself in this video, his comportment and his speech suggests a level of incoherence associated with people of an unstable mind.
” Indeed, his actions led to his immediate withdrawal by the Controller Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘D’, who instructed his detention pending medical evaluation” the customs authority had retorted in a statement last week when the embarrassing video hit the public space.
A highly placed Customs source claimed that the fate of the incarcerated officer now hangs in the balance as he may be eased out of the service for the viral video which he said thoroughly embarrassed the Customs top hierarchy.
“Unless providence intervenes in his favour, the officer may be on his way out of the service” the source declared
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Customs

Customs demonises officer amidst claims of official complicity in smuggling of petroleum products across border

Comptroller Adesanmi Omiye
The Eyewitness reporter
The Nigeria Customs Service has described as an “unstable mind” one of his patrol officers attached to the Federal Operations Unit Zone D in Adamawa over his outlandish claims which indicted a customs controller of compromise in the smuggling of petroleum products across the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
The unnamed officer, in a viral video, showing fully-loaded tankers carrying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as Petrol along Nigeria- Cameroon border, claimed that the products were being smuggled across the border to Cameroon.
The officer, speaking in Yoruba, further claimed that after he stopped the tankers with smuggled products, he was allegedly summoned by a customs Controller whose name he didn’t mention, claiming that he was being threatened for daring to stop the illicit act.
While pouring vituperation on the unnamed Controller, he said he has spent 11 years at the borders, stopping the smuggling of Nigerian oil across the borders, but was never rewarded with juicy postings to the choice commands in Lagos ports or Seme border.
Mr Adesanmi Omiye is the Customs Comptroller in charge of the zone.
Reacting to the embarrassing viral video, the Customs Service dismissed the claims of the officer whom it said was of an unstable mind.
In the statement signed by the National Public Relations Officer of Customs, Deputy Comptroller Timi Bomodi, the said officer has since been arrested and awaiting medical evaluation.
 “Nigeria Customs Service is compelled to respond to a recent video making the rounds on social media.

” This video depicts a half-clad individual recording himself while claiming to have arrested trucks carrying premium motor spirit across the border as an officer of Nigeria Customs Service.

“The facts are as follows; the person in the video is indeed an officer of Nigeria Customs Service, and he is currently attached to the Federal Operations Unit Zone D in Adamawa.

“This incident occurred on Wednesday 2nd of November 2022 at Malabo Checkpoint on Belel Road, Adamawa state.

” It is important to note that 55 kilometers separate this location from the nearest border.

“Between the place where this incident occurred and the border, there are fully operational petrol stations.

” Preliminary investigations indicate that the drivers on these trucks were in possession of duly signed product distribution sheets for consignments allocated by PPMC for filling stations within that vicinity.

” As vehicles in transit, they are considered still to be well within city limits and therefore can neither be accused of nor arrested for transporting goods across the border.

“All our officers are compelled by a strict dress code to not only be in uniform while on duty, but to adorn their name tags for easy identification by members of the public.

“The state in which this officer depicted himself in this video, his comportment and his speech suggests a level of incoherence associated with people of an unstable mind.

” Indeed, his actions led to his immediate withdrawal by the Controller Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘D’, who instructed his detention pending medical evaluation.

“The NCS seriously frowns at any action that is inimical to the economic well-being of our nation.

” Our battle with smuggling has been unequivocal and unyielding. Our checkpoints are usually manned by a team of officers all of whom are assigned specific responsibilities.

“The levels of checks and counter-checks created as part of the NCS strategic enforcement initiative have made it extremely difficult for breaches to occur.

“Nigeria Customs Service wants to assure members of the public of the commitment of its officers and men to securing our borders.

“We ask for your understanding in this endeavor even as we seek your prayers for those whose health and well-being may have been compromised by stress while carrying out their onerous assignment” the statement concluded.
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Customs

Ember months:  Lagos ports record low cargo clearance activities 

—as cash crunch hits importers 
The Eyewitness reporter
The usual frenzied tempo in goods clearance during the ember months has disappeared from the Lagos ports due to a cash crunch among importers.
Usually this time of ember months, there is always high frequency of clearance of goods at the ports by importers and their agents but such enthusiasm has considerably waned as fewer numbers of importers who could surmount the economic hardship coupled with the astronomical increase in Customs dues and tariffs are able to take their goods out of the port.
Curiously, the customs commands are posting huge revenues amidst this tight fiscal policy of the government.
For example, the Apapa Customs command, the flagship Command of the service which accounts for about two third of the annual revenue of the service, last week announced the revenue of N790.630billion within the first 9 months of the year(January- September).
The Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta Ibrahim promised that the command will likely gross a trillion naira in revenue at the end of the year.
Then where does this huge revenue come from amidst sluggish clearing activities at the ports?
It was gathered that the recent increase in the Customs exchange rate by the federal government boosted the monthly earnings of the customs.
It could be recalled that for yet another time in September, the Customs exchange rate was jerked up from $409 to $422.3, an increment of $13.3.
Comptroller Yusuf, while confirming the impact of the increase in the customs exchange rate on the revenue profile of the command, also declared that the increment has a negative impact on the clearing activities.
“The increment in the customs exchange rate has also led to an increase in our revenue” the Apapa Customs chief declared.
He however confessed that the increase in the exchange rate was an additional overhead cost for importers.
“It is an unexpected increase”
Explaining why the hustle and bustle in clearing activities during the ember months are lacking this year, Comptroller Yusuf said importers are hit by a cash crunch as they could not even procure loans from the banks to clear their goods.
” The increase in the exchange rate has become another overhead cost for importers as it is unexpected.
“Prediction of the market is becoming increasingly difficult for the to make.
“However, it depends on the market response.
” If the market forces respond positively to the increase, it is fine, if it doesn’t, that’s another challenge.
“That is where a good businessman will sit down and make an informed analysis between the operating environment and corporate environment where he operates” Comptroller Yusuf declared.
He however said that the cargo is there at the Port but the rate of clearing them is slow.
“The pressure is on the cargothrouput . The cargo is there.
”When you look at the Port, there is so much cargo but the issue is importers are finding it difficult to clear these cargoes because of lack of funds.
” They find it difficult to obtain loans from the banks to clear them, they are finding it difficult to get the right response from the market forces.
”Some of them have to clear part of their cargo, sell them to get money and use the amount to clear the rest of the cargo.
”This is why the cargo clearance exercise is lower now in this ember months as against other previous ember months
because importers lack funds to carry out this clearing process” the Apapa Customs command boss explained.
Conversely, the customs commands are grossing more revenue because, according to Comptroller Yusuf, the men and officers of the command are tirelessly committed to ensuring that all revenue leakages are mitigated as well as sustaining the level of compliance by importers and other stakeholders in the clearance value chain.
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