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ALARMING: STAKEHOLDERS ACCUSE CUSTOMS OF OPERATING 26 EXTORTION POINTS AT LAGOS PORTS

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-As ANLCA accuses Customs of Non implementation of Agreement

By Innocent Orok

Hameed Ali, CG, NCS.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has been accused of operating a cartel of extortion groups in Nigeria , especially at the Lagos ports.

Just as the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said the Service high Command has refused to implement the collaboration agreement reached with its management to checkmate excesses of importers and Customs officers in the ports.

They said to clear a container in Lagos and Nigerian seaports, you have to be ready and prepared, because you will go through all the over 26 Customs Units parting with money.

According to them, the Units are, Form M, PAAR, .Unblocking, Abandoned, Examination/Report, DC Report, Releasing, DC Stamping,Gate and Exiting. Others are Valuation, CPC Q and A ( Query and Amendment), APM, DC Administration , DC Compliance,
CAC monitoring, CIU,.Enforcement, Customs Police, OC Gate, Gate Officers and after clearance comes PCA.

Then on the roads, they further alleged that four other Customs Units, namely FOU, Strike Force, Headquarters Squad and Customs Police are all there to extort traders either on their way to their warehouses or to the importer’s destination.

Collaborating the allegations, an Executive member of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA, names withheld) said all the checkpoints existed and that the Customs have turn it to extortion points to both Compliance and Non-compliance importers.

According our source , ” the checkpoints are not new, they are only multiplying by the day. For you to clear your goods out of the port either you are Compliance or Non-compliance, you have to part with money.

” If your container is stopped by any of the Units, for compliance ones, the Customs starts bargaining with you from N15,000 – N20,000 for 20ft container and N20,000 to N25,000 for 40ft containers.
Then for non-compliance, that is you have some infractions, the bargain starts from N50,000 to N100,000 for 20ft and 40ft respectively.”

On why compliance importers or their agents should pay such amount after paying the required duty, he said. ” if you refused to part with money on the ground that you are compliance, the officer will decide to take you to Federal Operations Unit ( FOU) where you will be further extorted in 30 Units at the FOU. All these is to intimidate you, so that next time you will never want to go to their office again. And of course all these delays tells on your pocket through various demurrage. Then why won’t things cost in our markets”

Meanwhile, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) says it is trying to resuscitate the earlier collaboration agreement reached between the association and the Customs for a seamless and friction free trade facilitation entered into with the Customs Headquarters few years ago.

Speaking with our Correspondent, the National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Abdulazeez Mukaila said the present ANLCA leadership during their recent visit to the Comptroller General of the Customs in Abuja reminded him of their earlier collaboration agreement with the immediate past leadership of ANLCA with the Service, which was never implemented.

The ANLCA Scribe said “during the tenure of Prince Olayinwola Shittu, the ANLCA entered into an agreement with the Customs high Command on how to resolve issues bordering on trade facilitation, but it seems the agreement was not brought to the notice of the CG.
So when we visited him few months ago, we raised the issue of the pending collaboration and the CG said we should write again, we have written and even nominated members, but as usual, we have not heard anything again from the Customs.”

Mukaila said that if the collaboration is implemented, must of the infractions and delays will be addressed between the Customs. Importers and their Agents. “But again it seems some officers are sitting on the letter, because of their interest and I suspect, just like the previous ones, it may not see the light of the day,” he alleges.

He further said that, the Customs is creating the wrong impression that all importers and their Agents are non compliance, but when ANLCA enters into an agreement with them to collaborate to exposed the non -compliance ones, the Customs will never implement it. ” Whose fault?.

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