The Eyewitness reporter
“As part of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) reform strategy, the Service is compelled to adopt diverse methods to ensure transparency and accountability by automating existing processes and procedures.“Some of the technology deployed include but are not limited to: the use of seamless port clearing procedures which differentiates between the trader and customs zones respectively. The use of a Risk Management integrated tool for selectivity, based on the integrity of the importation.
“The use of artificial intelligence to select and assign examiners for cargo inspection.
“The use of Trade Hub Portal (NTH) to disseminate information concerning import/export and transit trade.“The use of e-auction sales for auctioning seized and condemned goods. This technology is deployed to suit our trade operating environment to encourage compliance in the trade supply chain and economic growth while increasing transparency and taking advantage of new technologies.“As the lead agency in trade facilitation reforms, the Service is committed to constantly reinventing its strategies and adapting to present-day challenges through partnering with other relevant government agencies in the port for effective ease of doing business which has yielded unmeasurable improvements in trade efficiency.
“I would like to use this opportunity once again to commend the existing and sustained synergy with our stakeholders and government operatives in Apapa Port.
“The need for synergy as a stimulant in collaboration and coordination cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, we are all enjoined to consolidate and foster this enviable relationship which is indeed a great example worthy of emulation.”
Comptroller Yusuf admonished senior officers at the event to go back to their terminals and units and transfer the knowledge they have received by mentoring young officers so that they can be more prepared to assume more advanced responsibilities in the future.
“If we continue organizing this seminar at the high level, it will not go anywhere without reaching the lower level. What kind of culture are we imbibing into our lower cadre officers?
” Share your views with officers and other stakeholders within your unit. You cannot do it alone,” he said.
Chairman, ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by the Resident Commissioner, Lagos State, Mr Kabir Elelu, commended the efforts of Apapa Customs Command under the leadership of Comptroller Yusuf in joining the fight against corruption.
He said the ICPC has seen how Apapa Customs has been striving to implement the policies put in place by the federal government in order to ease transactions at the ports.
“We have also seen how you are working tirelessly with the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) which was set up by the federal government to ease and implement the ease of doing business at the port,” he added.
Mr Elelu noted that the National Ethics and Integrity policy initiated by the Commission was conceived out of the urgent need to resuscitate the lost values of integrity and honesty in society.
“The state in which Nigeria is today with regards to corruption is as a result of the moral decadence we find in our society.
“Those values of yesteryears that we used to cherish have been eroded gradually and that is why we came together to initiate this policy which was adopted by the federal government.
“There are seven core values in the policy among which is Human Dignity, Voice and Participation, Patriotism, Personal Responsibility, Integrity, National Unity and Professionalism.
“The whole idea is that every Nigerian and foreigner doing business in Nigeria is expected to imbibe these values and preach it” he said.
In his presentation on inter-agency collaboration, a representative of the Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Intelligence, Major M.G Joel, highlighted the imperative of information sharing among government agencies.
He, however, noted that inter-agency rivalry has been one of the challenges bedeviling intelligence collaboration among government agencies.
According to him, inter-agency rivalry not only destroys the spirit of cooperation amongst government agencies but their morale and leads to the breakdown of law and order.
On his part, former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Eugene Nweke noted that Customs has channeled its attention towards achieving transparency and accountability through the modernization of its processes.
He, however, noted that Customs alone cannot achieve success as according to him, they need people’s support, partnerships and political support in line with the 3Ps of the World Customs Organization (WCO).
Tin Can Customs nets N574.3 billion in 2022 —–records N242.365 billion in exports
Oloyede said the figure represented an increase of N80.90 billion or 16.39 percent when compared with N493.4 billion recorded in 2021.
“This feat can be attributed to the constant rejigging of the existing measures geared toward sustaining the command’s revenue profile.
“It is as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as: periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation,” he said.
He noted that the command also ensured robust and continuous stakeholder engagements and collaborations with all sister government agencies and maritime associations.
“These led to timely intelligence sharing, utilisation and voluntary compliance to government’s extant laws by the trading public,” Oloyede said.
He added that the command increased surveillance on declarations made in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items.
He pointed out that the system paid off with the command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.85 billion.
“These seizures comprise 763kgs of Colorado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.6 million only as given by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5,060 pieces).
“Also among seized items are 1,150 bales of second-hand clothing, 1,190 cartons of 20 per carton of potassium bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1,200 per carton Pharmacol injection chloroquine phosphate 322.5mg.5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished machetes.
“Also, 1,383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2,666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter Ex-Premium Inverter Battery, 1,980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1,048 cartons of Tilda basmati rice,” he said.
Oloyede listed others as 2,594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, six Mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types.
He said that the seizures when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a Debit Note of N607.27 only, show an increase of 11 seizures and N1.24 billion.
He said that the increase in the DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, the high value of seized items and Naira depreciation that led to higher exchange rates on imported items.
“These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the provision of Sections 46 and 161 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022- 2026.
“The command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, Federal Operations Unit, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made.
“A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the command has 8 cases pending in court,” he said.
Oloyede said the command recorded a significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589,696,648 (N242,365,322,333.00) as against the $496,075,796 (N141,985,109,159.00) recorded in 2021.
He attributed the increase of 34.4 percent in the FOB to the high quality and value of exported commodities.
“However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986.8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022.
“The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current government fiscal policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrest with its concomitant economic challenges,” he said
He listed the commodities exported through the command to include: cocoa beans, insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminum ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items.
“Cocoa beans were the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity.
“The future of export in the command looks brighter as the command in line with the headquarter circular on Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command’s harmonised SOP for the seamless facilitation of Export Trade in strict compliance with Extant Laws and guidelines on Export,” he said.
”No container will leave Apapa Port without 100 percent physical examination”
declares Auwal Mohammed as he takes over as new Apapa Customs Area controller
—promises to surpass N1 trillion revenue mark
—vows not to facilitate non-compliant traders
The Eyewitness reporter
Despite the deployment of cargo scanning machines, the new area comptroller of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, has vowed that no container shall leave the Apapa port without a 100 percent physical examination.
Comptroller Mohammed, who formally took over the mantle of leadership of the command Friday, 27th, January 2023, from Ag. Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs(ACG) Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the decision to subject all cargo to physical examination was meant to account for every content of container passing through the command and to maximize revenue returns to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, warned non-compliant traders to steer clear of the command as he would not facilitate their trade as he desired to surpass the one trillion revenue mark achieved by the command under the former area controller Yusuf.
”We shall continue to conduct 100 percent physical examination of cargo so that we can account for all the cargo in the containers and to generate more revenue so that we can surpass the one trillion revenue collection that the command has already achieved. No package, no container should leave Apapa port without a proper 100 percent physical examination.” the new Comptroller told his officers who had gathered to welcome him.
He continued ”Today marks another era in the history of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service. I am inheriting a well-structured area command. The level of achievements and status achieved under my predecessor will be sustained while I will look for all means to surpass them.
I am ready for the job. I am aware of the big shoe I am stepping into but I am well prepared for it”, Comptroller Mohammad said.
He, therefore, asked the officers to be at their utmost best to cooperate and work with him to sustain and surpass the legacies of his predecessor.
He also solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders whom he promised to engage with and updated frequently on all issues and policies that will enhance their trade and performance of the command.
The new helmsman also charged all the releasing officers and the image analysts who will be conducting the scanning of cargo to be diligent and exhibit the utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism in their duty so as not to release uncustomed goods.
Mohammed, who was redeployed from Onne Port Area Command when he was the area controller, also enjoined the importers and their agents to be compliant with the cargo clearance procedural processes in order to enjoy a seamless cargo release.
”The goods clearance procedure is simple. Everything starts and ends with declaration and if there is a proper and correct declaration of cargo, there won’t be any need for delay and unnecessary interference with the process”, he admonished.
Earlier, the outgoing Area Controller, Ag. Yusuf, while handling over the operations and procedures of the command to his successor, solicited the support and cooperation of all the officers and other stakeholders for the new helmsman, urging them to avail the new comptroller of the same level of support, guidance, and cooperation and advice they gave him.
He also lauded the untiring efforts of his officers whom he said were instrumental in the monumental achievements recorded by the command under his watch.
Consequently, some officers who excelled in the discharge of their duties were commended and awarded certificates of merit, including the indefatigable Public Relations officer of the Command, CSC Abubakar Usman.
Hameed Ali, Customs boss, in last minute frenzied promotion, reshuffle of officers
In the new posting, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed was moved from Port Harcourt Area 2 command to head Apapa Command vacated by the revenue czar in the service, ACG Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf.
Others include Compt OA Salefu who now heads Western Marine Command Lagos, Compt AM Ibrahim heads PTML Terminal Lagos and Compt M.S Yusuf superintendents over the Muritala Muhammed Airport command in Lagos.
Compt CD Wada goes to Port Harcourt Area1 command as its Area Controller, while M.I Jalo heads Federal Operations Unit Zone B while B . Mohammed heads Lillypond command in Lagos.
The promotions and reshuffle of officers have however elicited mixed reactions among the Customs officers.
For those who benefited from the parting gift of Hammed Ali, it was a welcome development, but for those who hold the short end of the stick in the exercise, it left a sour taste in their mouth.
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