Lawmakers Knock Nigerian Customs, Says Duplication of Tables, Multiple Signatures Killing Cargo Clearance

Femi Gbajabiamila

The House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise has asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks making clearing of goods at Ports difficult.

The Committee noted that, the NCS is complicating the process through unnecessary duplication of functions through various administrative channels instead of full automation and use of technology.

The committee chairman and other members made the call at an interactive session with the NCS officials on Tuesday in Abuja.

Deputy chairman of the committee, Mukhtar Ahmed (APC, Kaduna) said the Customs have created many desks which hamper the smooth flow of documents and delay the clearing and discharge of containers from the Nigerian Ports.

“You have the CAC’s office, it will go to DC Admin, it will go to DC revenue, it will go to OC Bond who they will refer you to, it will go to Bond office, that is where to input Bond number.

“Then we have manifest seat, you have technical supervisor capture on IMD, the assistant technical supervisor who re-route the declaration, depending on where it is going.

“Then you have fast track for releasing documents you have DC compliance or whatever, then, you have DC enforcement, OC tagging, CIU, APMT for generating exit, staff officer for printing, OC main gate for approval and finally you have exit station at the main gate,” Ahmed said.

He said the committee has made its investigation and discovered the many sections allegedly created by the Customs which is bringing unnecessary delays.

“We sent five different people to go, and the only place they did not agree is at the exit. But every other step is followed like that. Now, if you have an automated system, the way you are mentioning that, you have an automated system, even these six, you don’t need it.

“I am telling you, you don’t need the documents to be moving from one table to another, if you have an automated system that is online. Take Form M for instance, we used to have about six copies physically, but because the system has been automated, only one entry goes in and one output,” he said.

Also, chairman of the committee, Leke Abejide (APC, Kogi) charged the NCS to be proactive and adopt measures to leverage on technology to improve on their operations.

He said that the amendment for the Nigeria Customs and Excise Act is on course and that when it comes into effect, will address the shortcomings and challenges facing the NCS.

Earlier, the Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Aliyu Sa’idu said, the Customs automation on their system is being fully automated and will reduce or eliminate the current concerns on their operations.

“Even the issue of DC revenue is just supervisory. I was a DC revenue and in APM for many years, and I stand to be challenged.

“No, importer, no declarer will ever say, he even have to follow his process to my office either at APM or at DC revenue. Mine was purely supervisory.

“Our target is to facilitate trade. Believe you me, it may interest you to note, even though we Nigerians don’t appreciate. Of all the almost 200 member nations of WCO, only 14 were adjudged to have simplified clearance procedure, and the Nigeria Customs happened to be one,” he said.

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