By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has been accused of frustrating importers by extending its demand for End User Certificate (EUC) to cargoes which ordinarily do not need the certificate to get cleared.
The End User Certificate is usually issued by the Federal Government through the National Security Adviser. It is a document used in international transfers, especially on importation of arms and ammunition or other cargoes to prove the buyer is the final recipient of the import.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS on Wednesday, Cordinator of Save Nigeria Importers, Exporters and Freight Forwarders Coalition (SNIEFFC) Dr.Osita Chukwu lamented that several cargoes are now trapped at the Apapa port as a result of Customs insistent that they must provide the EUC.
According to him, the port activist group had engaged the command and was told that the order to extend the EUC on other cargoes came directly from the office of the Nigerian National Security Adviser.
Dr. Osita that argued that NSA was frustrating ease of doing business and discouraging legitimate importers from coming into Nigerian ports.
“The Customs are now demanding for the end user certificate on other cargoes such as vehicles and private boats, meanwhile these items are not contraband or prohibited, they are in line with the standard of clearing and forwarding”
“The point is that when you have cargoes, there are laid down rules and procedures to clear it, all these stringent rules the NSA is introducing would discourage investors because it would make things difficult for them”
“There are so many cargoes lying in the port today because of the end user certificate controversy.
When we engaged the Customs they told us that the NSA has had a meeting with them and directed them not to treat certain cargoes without end user certificate”
“End user certificate is for the military, if I am importing a consignment for the military, I would need the certificate so that they would give me authority to load the cargo. But in this case, customs has extended the demand for end user certificate on various cargoes, thereby making it difficult for us to clear ” he lamented
The port activist alleged that securing the end user certificate is very difficult, adding that an importer could end up spending N2million before obtaining it.
He said he NSA has no such rights to force Customs to demand the certificate.
“The major thing I am challenging now is the legitimacy of the NSA asking Customs not to entertain any cargo without the end user certificate”
“If they must bring in this policy as a law, they must discuss at National Assembly, when it is okay, they can now ask the Customs to include it in CEMA, it now because an amendment.
Many cargoes have been trapped, incurring heavy demurrage because of the end user certificate”
When DAILY TREND NEWS contacted the Customs Command, Public Relations Officer, Nkiru Nwala who spoke for the Customs Area Controller, Mr Abba Kura explained the any importer making such allegations should come forward with explanations on the specific items he or she is importing.
She said “I suggest we treat this with specific examples bearing in mind that Nigeria Customs Service do not determine which items that required End User Certificate but implement whatever policies formulated by the Federal Government”
“All the cargoes that you mentioned are general item names, for example,
is it all categories of vehicles that require End User Certificates?
I suggest that you source for the list of items that require the End User Certificate through the NSA’s office” she said.