Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Dikko Abdulahi has warned operatives of the Service 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.”
In a separate development, the NCS has deployed three Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to combat smugglers between Lagos and Ogun states.
The APCs, findings revealed, were deployed following a gun battle between operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos and smugglers of rice, used vehicles and other prohibited items through illegal routes in both states.
The FOU, findings revealed, has identified the flashpoints and other illegal routes used by smugglers in the Southwest and are now on aggressive patrol to stop them and boost the nation’s economy.
Officers of the zone, it was gathered, have uncovered a hideout in Igbesa Creek, Ogun State where 11,264 bags of illegally imported 50kg parboiled rice were seized from smugglers recently.
Controller of the unit, Adamu Turaki, it was gathered, mandated his officers to destroy all the canoes, the smugglers’ storage facilities and the out board engines used in transporting the rice through Gbaji River to the country. This, he believed, would frustrate any future attempt by the smugglers.
Turaki said his officers intercepted the rice following intelligence report that smugglers were said to be planning to use the Igbesa creeks to braing in rice through Benin Republic before the Eid-El-Kabir celebrations.
“It is good to note and point out here that the Igbesa creek is reputed as both volatile and inaccessible particularly for Customs in the past. Several attempts to raid the place before now were met with serious opposition from the smugglers sabotaging the nation’s economy.
“We must also place on record that they have, in the past, attacked Customs patrol teams that have attempted to stop their nefarious activities. I am therefore, happy that the Lagos Roving Team led by AC Adamu Abubakar Mohammed was able to deal with the smugglers and make the seizure.
“On arrival at the scene of the crime, we started evacuation, even though we were faced with the challenge of unmotorable terrain. On completion of evacuation, I ordered the destruction of all the instruments of crime like the wooden boats, their storage facilities, out board engines and other items to deny them any future attempts.
“It is actually amazing to understand the naivety of the Baale of the community, who from all indications seemed not to know that smuggling is an economic crime. He told us point blank that smuggling is their only means of survival and that they use the proceeds from it to develop their community.
“I was perplexed when he told me that because he doesn’t know the implication. Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to urge you and your colleagues working in the print and electronic houses to help us educate and sensitise the local communities on the dangers of smuggling and its effect on the nation and its economy,” Turaki said.
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