The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali and his management team “for lack of professionalism and arbitrary demand notices issued on imported cargoes”.
The Vice President of ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, alleged that the present Customs management has been in the habit of slamming arbitrary demand notices on importers, adding that Customs agents now face several bottlenecks in the clearance of goods, which is against the Ease of Doing business policy of the Federal Government.
Farinto, who spoke with newsmen last weekend, also lamented Customs multiple intervention units, including the Customs CG taskforce that intercepts already cleared consignment at the port.
He said, “Government needs to change the Customs management team now. We were meant to believe initially that the Customs CG was going to add value to the Service but I want to say that this current Customs management team is not adding value to the Ease of Doing Business.
“We now lack professionalism and what we now have is arbitrary demand notices slammed on importers. We now have a situation where consignment that has been released by the same Customs is later intercepted in commando style. We have a situation where the maritime industry has been turned to a barbaric industry.
“We now have too many interventions from Customs even on consignments that have gone through examination. We all know the horrendous task we go through to examine a cargo. We do not have scanners, what we do is 100 percent physical examination.
“After set containers have been examined, we have a situation where the CG taskforce will stop the same consignment within the port and outside the port. They are always seen in Area B and Mile 2. We also have a compliance team of the same taskforce and the Federal Operations Unit (FOU).
“Recently, the FOU smartly have now increased their unit and called another one SWATT as if we are in America. The full meaning of SWATT we do not know but you need to see the kind of hassles our members go through at night.
“The commando style with which these units intercept containers that leaves the ports leaves one wondering if we are in a military system of government.”
Farinto also alleged that despite the border closure, banned items such as frozen poultry products still find their way into the country through Seme border.
“This team does what they like. In the past few days, agents cannot make declarations. They tell us that they are upgrading their system, which they have failed to upgrade over the weekend leading to demurrage charges. The big question is who pays the demurrage? The question is theoretical because it is the importers that pay and they transfer it to the final consumers. It is unprofessional and uncalled for. Annoyingly, nobody detects them. I was the only one who detected them.
“I put a call to Abuja, there was no circular to the trading community, there was no circular to that effect, yet you are issuing the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report on the same HS code you have suspended. Agents believe that the Customs leadership has been compromised,” he said.