Chief Executive Officer of Wealthy Honey Nigeria Limited and Vice President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Dr Kayode Farinto has accused the Nigeria Customs Service of killing already ailing economy of the country, saying that the service is retrogressing under its current Comptroller General, Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd)
In a press statement widely circulated at the weekend, Farinto, when Ali was first appointed to head the customs, stakeholders vehemently kicked against him because he was a retired military officer.
He said Col Ali (Rtd) started well but, relapsed like a patient that has cancer and was responding to chemotherapy treatment, who all of a sudden relapsed into coma.
Farinto said “The World Bank continuously rolled out data on how each country stands and since the inception of Col Hammed Ali (Rtd), Nigeria’s rating has continuously been bad. The logistics performance index (LPI) of a country is being measured using six key principles.
“Efficiency of the clearance process (i.e. speed, simplicity and predictability of formalities) by border control agencies which customs is one of. Everyone will agree with me that we have never had it so bad on issues of customs clearance.
“The issue of customs arbitrarily slamming their own data on the trading public has been militating against cargo clearance; issuing / slamming (25%) twenty five percent penalties on any infractions even when it is not intentional. Relying and misinterpreting (on) section 164 of Customs and Exercise Management Act Cap 45.
“When an individual, a DCG, queries most declarations made throughout the country with impurity and unchecked, it is uncustoms.
“The supervising ministry, which is Federal Ministry of Finance, can no more regulate nor make her circulars issued binding except being subjected to an individual amongst the management team. An example is the issue of Import Duty Exemption Certificated (IDEC) which has been automated but still subjected to queries by the office of the DCG Tariff and Trade which is gradually allowing importers, particularly on project cargoes, to pay demurrages and storages on their imports.
“Flagging-off many declarations, this not less than (90%) ninety percent by putting incessant alerts by other departments of customs for pecuniary gain. (About 7 alerts on most declaration i.e., valuation, CIU, DC enforcements customs police, DC terminals, comptrollers office etc.)
“Many Comptrollers in the western ports have created another office called “monitoring units” to extort and arm-twist customs brokers and freight forwarders to either succumb to arbitrary demand notices or settlement as the case maybe, if you must have a seamless cargo clearance.
“The issue of joint examination even though may be said to be working in theory is not pragmatic. This is because, an officer of a unit in customs may subject any cargo to re – examination to frustrate the agents to dance to their tune (i.e. settlement)
“Deliveries of cargo: This has been another herculean task. After the cargoes/containers are eventually cleared out of the ports, the Nigeria customs service had again mounted a road block just fifty meters (50m) to the port thereby subjecting the same cargoes that have been duly released to another round of examination or the agents are compelled to part with money, by the under mentioned unit. Usually, it used to be twenty thousand naira per TEUs per unit of customs.
• The CG’s strike force
• The CG’s due process
• The federal operations units roaming van
• The federal operations units (SWAT)
• The Nigeria custom police
From the above, it only means that for any container to get to the consignee’s warehouse, the consignees must pay about one hundred thousand naira per container as pocket money to have easy access as (pocket money).
“This becomes a norm, where the clearing agents become helpless and are tired of complaining because anyone that cannot meet up finds his/her container at FOU where there are over twenty – five tables to get your container back.
“This is outside subjecting the said container to examination where customs at FOU have colluded with labour to extort examination money from agents (20 ft attracts mandatory payment of N50, 000) fifty thousand naira.
“Majority of such jobs are slammed with demand notice (DN) which cannot be defended in this unit and once a DN is issued, you can’t challenge it at FOU.
Farinto also accused the customs of engaging in “Audio Seizures” that are not real, in order to deceive Nigerians that they are really working.
“The recent media seizures by the Nigeria customs service needs to be investigated. We now have what is called “Audio Seizures”. Since they know the CGC is ignorant, you find some comptollers calling press conferences for audio seizures, i.e seizures that never existed or repeating some seizures already shown to be public few years/ months back. This is not only uncustoms but a disservice to the nation which requires a probe panel” he said