Customs officers accuse Comptroller-General of economic sabotage

Customs collects N140.4bn revenue in August
Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali. PHOTO CREDIT: SHIPS & PORTS archive

Some aggrieved senior officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have decried what they described as economic sabotage being perpetrated by the Hameed Ali-led management over his refusal to address the issue of overtime cargoes littering the various ports and terminals.

Recall that the General Manager of PTML Terminal, Lagos, Tunde Keshiro had last year raised alarm over the high number of overtime cargoes at the terminal, which he said is threatening available space in the port.

Keshiro had urged Customs to commence the auction of overtime cargoes, stating that over 1,000 uncleared vehicles littered the terminal. 

“The space that is supposed to be given to new cargo is being locked up with all the associated cost of handling the overtime cargo at the terminal. It is on record that since 2015, Customs has not done any cargo auction in the port; be it container or vehicles. The last time they had auction in the port was August 2015 and since that time, we have not recorded any.

“They say they wanted to do e-auction but we are still waiting for it to be implemented for overtime cargo at the port. Electronic auction was done for seized cargoes at the border locations and at FOU (Federal Operations Unit) but when it comes to overtime cargoes at the port commands; we have not recorded any single auction since August 2015,” Keshiro had said. 

But the Customs officers, speaking on condition anonymity for fear of victimization by the Customs high command, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that the non-auction of overtime goods at the port has become worrisome.

“Ali has come to drag Customs backward. He puts the Service in reverse and he is still reversing it. If eventually they decide to bring in a serving officer, only God knows the rots he will meet on ground. Look at all the overtime cargoes littering over the ports and terminals for auction, yet they can’t do anything. This is what we have been saying over time that we need an insider who knows all these things and he will do it.  This man does not know what to do because the experience is not there.

“A serving officer will not allow the huge number of overtime cargoes we have in the port today to remain like this. He will know what to do about it because the experience is there. Go to the terminals, the vehicles are all rotting away because of the effects of rain and sun on them. This is economic sabotage. That is the problem with the government in power. They don’t know anything and that is why the system is down and there is poverty everywhere. It is a terrible situation,” an Assistant Comptroller of Customs at one of the port commands in Lagos told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

Noting that the online auction of goods introduced by the present Customs management could not be sustained due to irregularities in the system, the officer said people have lost confidence in the system and are no longer bidding.

“The online auction has failed and that is why they are not saying anything about it again. Come to the terminal and see for yourself, the vehicles are all rotting here,” he said.