By DAPO OLAWUNI
Members of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) at PTML Chapter in Lagos have accused the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the terminal of using a fraudulent document in issuing value payable on imported vehicles.
Recall that some aggrieved clearing agents were seen in a viral video recently, molesting the Customs Area Controller, Compt Festus Okun, chanting “thief” and accusing him of issuing outrageous valuation on imported cars all in the bid to meet up the command’s 2020 revenue target.
To this end, the Chairman of ANLCA PTML Chapter, Elder Oluwole Obey yesterday convened a town hall meeting in order to resolve the professional conflict between the Customs and the agents.
The clearing agents however took turns to purge out their minds about the many alleged atrocities being committed by the Customs command, all in the name of meeting up their 2020 revenue target.
One of them, Aniezechukwu Uchechukwu who is special adviser to the chapter chairman on maritime affairs alleged that
PTML Customs command were distorting values of imported cargoes in order to suit the government.
“We want to believe that the valuation being issued by PTML Customs are too exorbitant and it has no basis. The data base with which Customs Customs issue their valuation is fraudulent, I have with me a document from the World Customs Organisation which is a Customs guide to valuation which Nigeria Customs is signatory to, the document says that the essence of valuation is on transactional value”
“I can provide so many receipt of cars which are different from what Customs are giving us, recently we did an autobiography here and we presented the receipt of purchase of $70,000 vehicle, but Customs issued us 125,000 value, we can present the receipt anywhere”
“The Customs Service document is a total fraud, the Customs officers cannot continue giving us values from under their cupboard, the guideline for valuation says their must be an interaction between the importer and the agents and the Customs service before valuation is given”
“Nigeria Customs Service are distorting values of imported cargoes in order to suit the government that wants revenue from them. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) are also aware that Customs is misusing the data base and distorting values”
“If the Customs does not stop this act, we have enough legal instrument to stop their activities, the days of going to fight Customs is over, we are going to use our legal instruments” he said
Aniezechukwu further alleged that many charges that are not known to law are being collected by the terminal operators; PTML and Grimaldi Shipping.
He said the charges ranged from the payment of access card every year, to the exorbitant shipping charges, container deposit charges, non starting charges among others.
He reiterated that these charges are not known to any law in Nigeria. He urged authorities of Grimaldi Shipping to take heed before the agents are pushed to the wall
Another agent, Okechukwu Remigeus alleged that PTML Customs Command has become a testing ground for all unfriendly policies of the Customs Service.
“PTML Customs command has become a testing ground for all forms of unfriendly Customs policies, whatever is discussed in Abuja in the morning, by afternoon they have already started implementation at PTML without any circular, without information or any process”
“By the time you resume at the office, you would have seen a different thing altogether. Why is it that Grimaldi Terminal has become a testing ground when there are other terminals before us?” he said
Responding, the Customs Area Controller, Mr Festus Okun who was represented by Deputy Comptroller enforcement, DC Ogbonna, explained that customs block cargoes from exiting the terminal when there are suspicions of forgery.
He said alerts come on cargoes when the value paid on consignment is not correct.
“If you are supposed to pay N2Million on a cargo and you paid N1million, definitely you will get an alert”
“Forgery is not good, it is bad for the economy, and everything we are doing is to protect the Nigerian economy”
Speaking earlier, Chairman of PTML chapter of ANLCA, Elder Oluwole Obey said it would be extremely difficult not to have friction and professional conflict at interval when dealing with a Customs service that is being monitored daily online from the headquarters with a predetermined and outrageous financial targets.
He however said that the association is always seeking ways to resolve conflict between agents and Customs and that this is the major essence of the periodic stakeholders meetings.
Elder Obey cautioned his members that every professional conflict are meant to be analysed and resolved, he appealed to his members to be calm and patient.