Customs orders arrest of officers mounting illegal checkpoints

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Dikko Abdulahi has directed the intelligence unit of the Service to arrest any operative or group of operatives found to be operating any illegal checkpoints along the nation’s highway.

The Customs boss in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer; Wale Adeniyi said the directive was in response to the recent increasing complaints that some officers mount illegal checkpoints in some part of the country despite the CG’s earlier directive that all Customs checkpoints be dismantled.

“It would be recalled that in a bid to facilitate trade, the Comptroller General had ordered the dismantling of all Customs checkpoints along the nation’s highways in 2012. That directive was followed by massive retooling and redeployment of operatives to the borders which have been yielding positive results in the areas of seizures of prohibited goods.

“Reports reaching the CGC in recent times indicate isolated cases of Customs checkpoints in some parts of the country. This is clearly in contravention of earlier directives and not in line with the present posture of the Service which places premium on trade facilitation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the ban on hinterland checkpoints does not waive the statutory duty of embarking on information patrol which must be properly backed by a patrol permit duly signed by the appropriate authority.

“The business community is therefore advised to continue their legitimate businesses and assist us in monitoring compliance by reporting cases of violation to the office of the Comptroller General of Customs,” Adeniyi, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, stated.

In a related development, the Customs boss also warned NCS operatives against indiscriminate issuance of Demand Notices (DN).

The NCS issues DN to recover revenue that may be lost to under-valuation or under-declaration of goods.

Abdulahi gave the warning against the backdrop of complaints from clearing agents that Customs officers were in the habit of indiscriminately issuing “outrageous DN” which importers sometimes find difficult to pay. Those who are unable to pay are believed to abandon their consignments at the port.

In a circular titled “Clearance Procedure/Issuance of Demand Notices” issued on his behalf by the Deputy Comptroller General in charge of tariff and trade, Adewuyi Akinade, a copy of which was sighted by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Abdulahi said the Customs headquarters had been inundated with reports of anomalies prevalent in the clearance of imported goods at the ports and borders.

The Customs boss also barred all Customs units, except the valuation unit, from issuing DN.

Dated August 14, 2014 and addressed to all DCG’s, ACG’s and Area Controllers, the circular read: “Issuance of frivolous demand notice by officers must be stopped immediately. No other unit of the Service except valuation unit is authorized to issue demand notice on value related issues.

“On no account should any officer reject any decision taken by the headquarters on classification issues. Any officer with observation on such issues should follow official procedure for consideration.

“Headquarters frowns at unnecessary delay of goods at the port as a result of dispute arising from importer’s declaration. Area Controllers are to ensure strict compliance with the extant guidelines and note that non-compliance shall attract appropriate sanctions.”

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