The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has faulted the call by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to revoke all licenses issued by the service, describing the call as unethical and a move to take the clearing industry back to the era where anything goes.
It will be recalled that NAGAFF had in a letter it addressed to Comptroller-General of Customs recommended the immediate revocation of all licenses issued by the Nigeria Customs Service so as to protect government revenue.
But in a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday, National Publicity Secretary of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto observed that a freight forwarder should know that he has limitations because he cannot make declarations with the NCS since he was not empowered to do so.
Farinto recalled that the position of CEMA Section 153 and 156 stipulated that before anyone could clear cargo at the seaport, such a person must be registered by the Board of the Customs.
According to him,” Section 153 sub-section 2(b) Authorization of agents states that, ‘Subject to sub-section 1 of this section, anything required by this Act to be done by the importer or exporter of any goods or an excise trader may except where the Board otherwise requires be done on his behalf by a licensed customs agent or an excise agent in accordance with the regulation made under section 156 of this Act'”.
“Sub-section 3 of this same Act says that…’No person shall transact any business relating to customs and excise with any officer on behalf of another unless the first mentioned person i.e., (a) a person authorized under sub-section 1 of this section (b) a person mentioned in sub-section 2 of this section'”.
The ANLCA spokesman further listed the procedures to be followed before registration with the Nigeria Customs Board to include that there must be registration by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by virtue of CEMA which he said was a law on its own.
“After the CAC registration, there are procedures to be followed before being registered by the Board of Customs amongst which are; that the corporate body must have an identified office, staff, staff bus and a Secretary after which it must provide a bank bond before authorization by the Board.
“It was discovered during the era of self-clearance that many people with dubious intentions applied for self-clearance, all that happened then are now history (what some of them did)”, he said.
He however opined that stakeholders should not be hoodwinked with the issue of e- commerce as raised by NAGAFF in its letter as according to him, that did not mean that procedures which encouraged integrity in the system should be jettisoned for a shortcut that would breed corruption, chaos and make the Federal Government lose billions of Naira. He described NAGAFF’s suggestion as unethical, illegal and unacceptable.
He added,” The Taxpayers’ Identification Number (TIN) is an addendum to assist the NCS in knowing the exact location and address of the corporate body she is doing business with. This is because the TIN provides additional information about the individual or corporate body and it has eliminated individuals with sinister motives that used cemeteries as their addresses just to dupe the government and evade duties, levies and other taxes.
“Finally, I advise that those clamouring for individuals to be issued with Customs license better have a rethink because it won’t happen. My advice to them is that since most of them that initially had it lost it due to fraud, they should liaise with some registered license owners as staff if they have integrity”.
He further disclosed that the Comptroller-General of Customs had at the last stakeholders meeting approved that every license be issued with passwords to discourage those people with sinister motives and intentions.
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