EXCLUSIVE: Customs Re-impound 300 Clearing Licenses Used to Exit Vehicles Illegally from Ports Under ASSYCUDA Regime

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By DAPO OLAWUNI

There are fresh indications that the Nigeria Customs Service has re-impounded scores of clearing licenses that were blocked as a result of hacking between 2016 to 2019 under the old Assycuda regime.

The ASYCUDA is a system designed to help automate Customs processes on the importation/exportation of goods and compile accurate trade statistics.
The Nigeria Customs Service has however since moved to a more sophisticated platform known as NICIS 2.

The affected licenses numbering more than 300, were used for releasing vehicles from the port illegally, otherwise known among practitioners as Unpaid Assessments.

The management of customs however granted the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) an amnesty to compile a list of it’s members affected by the fresh suspension of licenses, and present the list for an unconditional pardon.

Confirming this to DAILY TREND exclusively, National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila said the amnesty was granted ANLCA on the impounded licenses during a meeting between National Executive Committee (NECOM) of the association and the management of customs in Abuja last week.

Recall that former President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike in 2019 secured release of about 300 affected licenses that were hacked to carryout illegal declarations unknowingly to their owners.

Apparently, the Nigeria Customs System Audit has restored the suspensions again this year 2023 during it’s renewals.

Alhaji Mukaila said that these agents who enjoyed these pardon and these before it, must now come forward for a fresh compilation.

Speaking, he said “At the twilight of Prince Olayiwola Shittu’s regime, the incident happened and even the President license was affected. We were able to seat down with the CGC and he saw reason with us, he gave back these licenses.

“When I came into office, I found out that some agents were still complaining of their Licenses being hacked and blocked, so I decided to put it in proper perspective, I wrote the customs, and the reply came that the CGC has released all affected licenses which was announced in 2019”

“The system is garbage in cabbage out, it is already in the system that these licenses have issues, so when system was recalibrated again this year, it started raising red flags against these names again even though they have been pardoned before” he said

Mukaila however said the association recently wrote to the Customs CGC, Col Hameed Ali again and subsequently held a meeting with the management team.

“The position now is that anybody that has enjoyed the amnesty before should come up for a fresh compilation for us to have a lasting solution.

“All the vehicles that were punched for assessment, they were nowhere to be found, these are smuggled vehicles, we don’t know how manage the customs did it that hackers were able to have people’s password and did declaration enmass.
How come a particular company is assessing 50 different cars in one day? And another 30 different vehicles?

“What we are telling our members is that we cannot be going front and back. Those that have enjoyed the Amnesty whose names were not properly documented between ANLCA and customs should not feel relaxed, they should still come forward and register their names for us to have a comprehensive list

“The 300 licenses which Tony Iju secured their release should also come forward for us to have a master list. Most of them are presently feeling unconcerned.

“There is a criteria, we are not looking for those who have unpaid assessment on conventional jobs between them and customs, they should go and pay their assessment, but if your license by way of hacking was used for vehicles before customs advanced to the new NICIS 2, then you are covered.

“By 4th of June 2023, the register would be closed. Only 100 people have come forward so far and we are doing due diligence” he said

He said that any clearing agent who fails to come forward and enjoy the amnesty would personally visit the customs headquarters in Abuja to resolve his or her own.

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