By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Customs Service has reacted to social media posts that it takes 21-steps and multiple customs checks before an importer can get his cargo cleared from Nigerian ports.
The social media post alleged that multiple Customs units was responsible for the high cost of goods in the Nigerian market, and that customs officers deliberately request for uneccesary documents in order to extort clearing agents, thereby killing trade facilitation.
Reacting to inquiries by journalists on Friday morning, the Public Relations Officer of Tin Can Island Command of Customs, Uche Ejesieme said there are only eight statutory customs units in cargo clearance.
He said the role of Nigerian customs is limited to examination and release of cargo.
The statutory requirements according to him includes that a
Form ‘M’ must first be opened at a designated bank, the Pre-arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) generated from the Customs PAAR ruling centre in Abuja, followed by examination of cargo at the seaport.
“The Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) provides additional intelligence.
Valuation Unit is to check value and for appraisal of value when infractions are noticed.
Cpc/Q&A, for modification of HS code”
“Post Clearance Audit (PCA) is a follow up unit for Fast track beneficiaries. Monitoring and compliance unit is a statutory requirements of the world customs organisation, wherein all customs administrations are required to put modalities in place to ensure compliance.
DC terminals and OC gates are for final documentary checks”
Ejesieme noted that in order for an importer to enjoy fast cargo clearance, compliance is the key word. He said that a compliant trader will always get expeditious attention and other incentives.
According to him, the interference of any other unit is usually on the outcome of physical examination or privileged intelligence report.
“It is instructive that, of the alleged 21 steps,some are statutory requirements for documentation, some for checks and balances,while the rest are actually figments of the writers imagination” he said
Meanwhile, clearing agents and importers dissagree with the customs position, saying that there are multiple units and alerts on cargoes, thereby killing trade facilitation.
Some of the units alleged by the operators are: Form M, PAAR, Unblocking, Abandoned, Examination/report, Dc Report, Releasing, DC Stamping, Gate Exiting, Valuation, CPC Q and A
Others are; APM, DC admin, Dc compliance, CAC monitoring, CIU, Enforcement, Customs police, Oc gate, gate officers and PCA.
“Then on the road to your warehouse you will meet the following who will take you to either your warehouse or their own warehouse they are
3.Head Quarters squad
“By the time you go through all this and you still have other Govt agencies like SON, NAFDAC, QUARANTINE NDLEA, SSS, POLICE BOMB SQAD, AND TERMINAL OPERATORS, with the demurages what you will have is very high and unaffordable goods” the post reads.