Notwithstanding arguments by top management staff of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) that introduction of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) into the goods clearance process at the nation’s seaports will eliminate frequent interception of goods cleared from the port by Customs operatives, recent development has pointed to the contrary.
Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ of the NCS, Comptroller Isa Nuhu has said that while his men no longer mount checkpoints on the highways; they reserve the power to intercept and confiscate goods suspected to have been cleared fraudulently from the port.
While reacting to allegations by some clearing agents that his men were flouting the Customs Comptroller General’s directive which cancelled Customs checkpoints on the highways, Nuhu said his officers only intercept containers based on intelligence report.
“FOU officers still go out on information patrol. There is nothing that has stopped us from doing that. If I sit here and I am told that there are containers leaving the port in which duties have been compromised or banned items are inside the containers, you don’t expect me to say because it has been released, I should sit here and let it go. I don’t think that is the idea. The idea is there should not be FOU operatives along the roads manning a permanent checkpoint checking goods coming out of the port, we don’t have that,” he said.
He said since the CGC’s directive, officers of the unit no longer mount road blocks or station themselves at a particular port except at PTML Command which before now did not have an enforcement unit.
“There is no single FOU officer in any port apart from PTML. I had officers there last month and it is because before now, PTML as a Command did not have an enforcement unit. So I extended my courtesy to them to provide enforcement services only at the Mile Two annex of the Command because of the rowdy situation of that place and we needed to be there to maintain peace.
“The CGC has however gave the Command an enforcement station now and immediately he gave that approval I removed my officers there. But you know I don’t need to tell the agents all these and as far as they are concerned, they will say FOU operatives are there, not knowing why they are there,” Nuhu explained.