By Ifeyinwa Obi
The Nigeria Customs Service has lost about N90m revenue payable on vehicles imported through the Tin Can Island Port between January and October 2010 to fraudulent customs agents and importers.
The Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit, NCS, Zone A, Ikeja, Mr. Emmanuel Kane, said that N7.1m duty was paid on 65 vehicles, Jeep inclusive imported through the port during the period under review instead of the N97m that was supposed to be paid.
He said: “It may interest you to know that between January and October this year, we have hauled from the TCIP alone, a total number of 65 vehicles (jeeps inclusive), with N7.1m ridiculously paid as duties instead of a total of N97m that is supposed to be the actual expected revenue from all these vehicles. Let it be known once more that the management of the Nigeria Customs Service has put in place measures to track and punish officers, who are found guilty of colluding with these unscrupulous importers/agents.
They have made attempts to stall operations at the TCIP in the last few days, but let them know that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, and the entire officers of the NCS will never succumb to their evil ways.”
According to him, the reform programme embarked upon by the management of the NCS had given rise to some policies aimed at boosting and stabilising the nation‘s economy.
Kane said that some importers and agents had refused to embrace the reforms, as they preferred to engage the services of touts, who were only concerned with breaking the laws of the land.
He said most of the importers and agents had vehemently rejected the electronic payment system, which was originally aimed at fast-tracking clearance of goods at the ports, because they did not want to pay the correct duties.
Comptroller Emma Kane said the outfit besieged some auto companies in Victoria Island, Lagos, where the vehicles were parked aftermath of discovery that the clearing agents did not pay the actual import duties to the customs.
Besides that, Kane berated the tactics being employed by the clearing agents during the clearing of cargoes, noting that the action was a way of sabotaging the efforts of the security outfit.
According to him, the customs would not tolerate a situation whereby some unscrupulous and unrepentant members of the trading public try to deprive government of its revenue drive.
The customs boss, however, admitted the illicit act was perpetuated between some officials of the customs and importers/clearing agents, to defraud the Federal Government through false disclosure of imported cargoes as a way to bring uncertainty in customs operations.
He said the illicit act, which is rampant at the Tin-Can Island port would be curtailed by the security agency as it has red alert on various activities going on in the port.
Kane pointed out that customs have discovered certain deals, which were perpetuated by the importers/clearing agents to shortchange the government, adding that the customs officials that aided them to carry out the deal are on the verge of being dismissed from active services.
“Our duty is to ensure that we protect the environment, protect the territory to ensure that injurious things and some drug addictions and other invalid things do not come in into Nigeria. Nigeria would be a safe place for everybody. How on earth would a clearing agent paid N20, 000 as customs duty for a 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser worth N40 million,” he asked rhetorically?