Customs Area Controller, Port and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML) Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Tunji Aremu, has denied allegations that gate officers of the command conduct re- examination on containers that had been duly released at the port.
A group of clearing agents operating at the command had alleged that officers at the gate re-examined containers at the gate and checking import documents, thereby frustrating prompt exit of containers.
According to them, should there be any reason for re examination of containers, it should be done at the terminal and not at the gate.
But speaking with SHIPS& PORTS DAILY in his office, Aremu described as ‘exaggeration’ the agents’ claim, saying that gate officers are not allowed to take part in examination, but only make use of examination report obtained from the releasing officer to exit containers.
“Agents will always want a way out. I don’t see my officers opening containers at the gate.
“In the first instance, the officers at the gate are not even allowed to participate in examination at the terminal. They only need to make use of the report of the examination and exit the container.
“There is nothing like re-examination of container at the gate. It is an exaggeration, nobody does that among my officers,” Aremu stated.
The customs boss however noted that based on intelligence report, consignments with underpayment that were released due to laxity on the part of the releasing officer would be re-examined at the terminal.
“ If there is any concrete evidence to doubt the container exiting, the worst my officers would do is to return it for verification, which is in order because it is better to reposition and then recheck instead of allowing it to exit and later find out that they made a mistake.”
On allegations of interception of vehicles cleared at the port by operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, Aremu said the anti-smuggling arm of the Service is positioned to complement the effort of the various commands under the zone should there be any oversight on the part of a releasing officer, pointing out that such officer will also be queried and be made to make such underpayment.
“There may be some laxity on the part of the releasing officers when they don’t do their work properly as it should be done.
“So FOU operatives are to complementing what we do. They are like police of the Service. And in some cases, they send underpayment to us and this leads to increment in our revenue generation.
“The Comptroller-General has even gone further to ensure that when there is laxity on the part of an officer and allowed containers to exit without proper payment of duty, that officer is made to pay the under payment.
“That is the extent to which the laxity should not even exist. The CG has zero tolerance for laxity and he emphasized that if any officer is caught, he will be made to pay such”, Aremu said.