CUSTOMS CRIES FOUL! ‘Anomalies are prevalent in the clearance of exports’

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has raised an alarm over the alleged prevalence of anomalies in the clearance of the nation’s exports.
In a letter dated 20th March, 2013, with reference numbers NCS/T&T/I&E/017/VOL. XII, and assigned by the Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of Tariff and Trade, Mr. Julius Nwagwu, the Service lamented: “Reports reaching Headquarters indicate that anomalies are prevalent in the clearance of exports through the ports/borders.”
The letter, a copy of which was sighted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, was titled CIRCULAR NO: 005/2013. RE: CLEARANCE PROCEDURE – GENERAL (EXPORT).
The circular was addressed to all Deputy Comptrollers-General, all Assistant Comptrollers-General, All Customs Area Controllers (CAC) and All Unit Heads.

Among the anomalies listed by the Service are the following:
? Non-completion of the Single Goods Declaration (SGD Form C 2010) prior to exportation;
? Exportation of goods without Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI) issued by the pre-shipment inspection agent;
? Inadequate attention by Valuable Officers on issues relating to value of export goods; and
? Non-rendition of monthly returns of all exports to Headquarters.

Nwagwu stated: “The above anomalies among others are contrary to the provisions of the extant regulations/guidelines, particularly as contained in Circular Nos 053/2004 of 24th November, 2004 and 002/2011 of 11th April, 2011 (copies are attached).
“For the avoidance of doubt, the above circulars are still extant and must be followed to the letter. Non compliance will… tolerated.”
Checks by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY revealed that then Deputy Comptroller-General in-charge of Tariff and Trade, Mr. S. O. Ogundeji, had signed Circular No. 53/2004, which bore reference number NCS/REV/I&E/038/S.14/T and was dated 24th November, 2004.
The circular, which was titled CLEARANCE PROCEDURE-GENERAL (EXPORTS), was copied to all Deputy Comptrollers-General, all Zonal Coordinators, all CACs and all Heads of Unit.

The document stated: “The following procedure is to be observed by officers and all relevant agencies who are involved in the documentation process of clearing of goods for export from Nigeria:
• All non-oil export from Nigeria, except the following: personal effects, used motor vehicles and perishable i.e day-old chicks, human remains, vaccines, yeast, periodicals/magazines shall be subjected to inspection by the Pre-shipment Inspection Agents (PIAs) appointed for the purpose by Federal Government of Nigeria and the necessary Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI) issued before shipment.
• All exporters of Commercial Products shall register with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
• Exportation must be carried out through approved Seaport/airport or border stations.
• All goods for export shall be entered in Single Goods Destination (SGD) Form C.2010 with the relevant columns carefully completed.”

According to the circular, the following documents must be attached to the SGD Form C. 2010:
• Commercial invoice stating the description, quantity, unit price, and total value of goods. It shall also include the cost of internal transportation, insurance and freight charges;

A set of duly completed and signed Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form obtained from the exporter’s commercial bank. The bank shall endorse all the copies, retain the original and duplicate copies and the remaining four copies shall be submitted to Customs at the point of shipment for distribution as follows:
• Triplicate copy to be retained by Customs.
• Fourth copy to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
• Fifth copy to Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC)
• Sixth copy to the exporter. (The exporter shall make a photocopy and submit to his bankers to update their records.)
• CCI issued by the PIA on non-oil export.
• EUR-1 Movement Certificates for all goods to be exported to European Union countries

Noting that “Physical examination by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service of all export goods before sealing/loading is mandatory,” the circular added that such examinations shall be carried out at:
“Owner’s premises, as may approved by Nigeria Customs Service. The goods shall thereafter be escorted by Customs to the port of exportation.
“At the port of exportation for other exporters.”
Still on the procedure, that circular stated thus: “The export SGD must be processed in the CPC and result of physical examination duly endorsed accordingly prior to loading of the goods on board exporting vessel.
“Compliance with extant export regulations/guidelines of other relevant agencies are also required as applicable.
“The exporter shall open a domiciliary account with any approved commercial bank in Nigeria and must ensure that the repatriated export proceeds are paid into this account.

“The opening of letters of credit or other approved international mode of payment is mandatory for all exports from Nigeria.
“The Customs Export Seat shall be headed by an officer not below the rank of an Assistant Comptroller of Customs.
“The O/C Export Seat shall be responsible for the release of all export entries (SGD) and shall dispatch same to the NPA, shipping companies, terminal operators/bonded warehouse, himself with his name, rank, service number and signature boldly written on all copies of the Entry and Dispatch book.
“The Customs Area Controller shall ensure that the name, rank, Service Number and specimen signature of all Releasing Officers are forwarded to NPA, Shipping Companies, Terminal Operators/bonded warehouses.”
Similarly, in Circular No. 002/211, reference number NCS/EXC/CIR/469/VOL.I, dated 11th April, 2011, then Deputy Comptroller-General in-charge of Tariff and Trade, Mrs. M.I. Adegoke, treated the issue of export.

That circular, a copy of which was sighted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, was copied all DGCs, all ACGs, all CACs and all Unit Heads.

Titled: THE ISSUE OF EXPORT: THE WAY FORWARD, the document stated: “Further to the meeting that was held at Headquarters with Customs Area Controllers and Export Seat Officers by the Comptroller-General of Customs, it has become necessary to issue this circular to emphasise the following:-
• The Customs Area Controllers must henceforth ensure close supervision of Export Seats in their respective Commands to see that all export documentations are properly completed before exports are exited:
• Examination of all exports must be carried out to confirm the quantity of goods being exported and avoid a situation where documents presented by exporters are accepted by officers without proper checks;
• Valuation officers are henceforth to be involved in ascertaining correct values of all exports;
• A monthly return of all exports should henceforth be made to headquarters with such details as –
• Exporters’ name and address;
• Commodity exported;
• NXP Form No
• Quantity actually exported;
• Value declared;
• Assessed value; and
• Other relevant information

“For the additional guidance, attached to this circular is the Exporter Procedure Circular Ref. No. NCS/REV/I&E/038/S.14T of 24th November 2004 which should strictly be complied with.
“Area Controllers will be personally held liable for any lapse in procedure.”