The Port and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) command of the Nigeria Customs Service has raised an alarm about an increase in activities of a syndicate popularly known as “canteen boys” who specialise in falsification of Customs documents and releasing vehicles without paying appropriate duties.
Speaking exclusively with DAILY DAILY TREND NEWS on the heels of a protest at the command in Lagos by freight forwarders yesterday, spokesman of the PTML Customs command, Mr. Yakubu Muhammed raised an alarm that 90% of the valuation papers being presented by freight forwarders at the command are fake.
He said that the command has arrested few persons in this regard, even as he explained that freight forwarders are protesting against Customs officers for not allowing them to clear vehicles with fake documents.
He however said that most of the people perpetrating this act are touts, and they are not the real freight forwarders or clearing agents.
While explaining further on the antics of these criminal syndicate who forge Customs documents, he said “Some of the valuation papers they present to us has ridiculous values, for example, if you have a 2017 vehicle, maybe it is supposed to pay N1.3million, you will find out that some people are paying N500,000, definitely the cargo has to be alerted”
Angry freight forwarders had protested alleged high handedness of the customs officers, complaining of multiple alerts on already cleared cargoes.
In a social media video sighted by our correspondent, the freight forwarders were seen chanting “Ole” (thief) on the PTML Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Festus Okun.
A freight forwarder, Mr Dele Iboma on a WhatsApp platform Thursday morning said the people in the video were protesting the highhandness of Comptroller Okun at PTML.
He said “After giving you valuation they (Customs) will still alert it.
Overzealousness on the part of some officers have beclouded their sense of judgement just in the name of meeting their targets without considering the economic implications of Coronavirus”
But speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS correspondent, the PTML Customs spokesman said some of the people making these allegations are not real agents, they are touts.
“As long as you try to do the right thing, they are always against the right thing and they don’t want to comply. All these protest is because we charged them to follow due procedure”
“We have a lot of fake valuation, instead of them to come to the Customs directly to get valuation on vehicles, they would go outside and forge the papers, so what do you expect? Ofcourse the cargo has to be alerted “
“All what we are telling them is to come forward to Customs and get their valuation, this is reason for all the noise, I can testify to you that 90% if the valuation papers presented to us within this short period are fake valuation, we have done our analysis and checks on them”
“What we normally do is that, if we give you valuation, we have a valuation assessment manifest, there is a stamp we use on your papers to show it is original, we would document the chassis number of the valuation given to you, by the time you send it to the gate for verification, or to the releasing officer, they would detect the fake from original “
Mr Yakubu said the command have some freight forwarders that were already arrested in this regard.
“Once we find out it is fake, we place an alert and refer you back to the valuation unit for them to give you the appropriate value”
“Even if the cargo has exited, we would refer you to the Post Clearance Audit (PCA) unit, if you think you are smart, some people are smarter than you, the agents and freight forwarders are always proving smart”
“Sometimes, the headquarters also sent an alert, there is nothing in alert, it is just a guide that you should do the right thing and ensure that appropriate duties are paid”
“Why we are having all these noise is because these are vehicles, you would find out that up to five or six freight forwarders are following one vehicle to clear it”
“These guys are so dubious, there was a time we were changing the colours of the valuation papers, if we use green today, we use red the following week without them knowing, this actually minimized their activities at that time, but now it is getting rampant” he said
Comptroller Festus Okun assumed leadership at PTML Command early February 2020.
He replaced Comptroller Florence Dixon. On his assumption of office, the Comptroller had promised to sustain and improve on trade facilitation, compliance and revenue collection at Nigeria’s latest RoRo port for vehicular imports.
He was formerly Serving at Tincan Command before his elevation to the rank of Comptroller and subsequent posting to PTML Terminal.