The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has reacted to concerns raised by clearing agents operating at the nation’s ports over multiple customs checkpoint, which they said is impacting on cargo clearing processes at the port.
Customs spokesman, Joseph Attah in a post shared on social media explained that Customs’ anti-smuggling activities are anchored on three layers, which include Command resident officers, Federal Operations Unit and the Headquarters Strike Force.
The units, he said, have been productive and have not violated extant laws guiding their operations.
He stated that in line with the Federal Government’s policy on the ease of doing business, checkpoints are restricted to 40km radius of the border while operatives of strike force only step out to deal with credible intelligence and return to base.
He said, “While NCS welcomes constructive criticism and suggestions that will help the course of making Nigeria a friendly investment destination, blanket accusation and even call for dissolution of otherwise hardworking and highly productive outfit like the Headquarters Strike Force known for making high profile seizures of ammunitions, drugs, rice, vehicles appears suspect
“As a responsive organisation, NCS will continue to look forward to credible information about any team or officer that may be involved in an unethical practice for appropriate disciplinary action.
“NCS cherishes the existing cordial relationship with importers, agents and other relevant stakeholders whose activities have symbiotic impacts. Accordingly, management is open to any engagement that is aimed at enriching the system while not infracting on extant laws.”
Clearing agents operating at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports recently issued a 72-hour ultimatum on the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, over duplication of clearance processes by NCS officials.
The agents threatened that they would shut down the port next week Monday should the trend continue.
Speaking at a joint press briefing in Apapa on Thursday, the various associations including the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) had lamented the recent deployment of a team from Abuja to check the activities of the various commands at the western zone. The agents argued that the deployment of the team was slowing down Customs clearance.
The freight forwarders identified 10 various units of customs constituting bottlenecks inside the port including the CG Strike Force, Compliance team, Federal Operations Unit, Monitoring, Special Force, and information team among others.