*Indicts Customs, lists operational requirements
By Godfrey Bivwere
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has alleged that the bonded terminals approved by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) are ill-equipped for operation in contradiction of the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA).
The allegation contained in a letter the Association sent to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, stated that there are some approved terminals presently operating without relevant cargo handling equipments as well as a conducive working environment.
The petition dated July 28, 2021 and signed by its founder, Boniface Aniebonam, noted that the non-availability of cargo handling equipment is affecting the smooth operations of the officers and men of the Service.
The letter read in part, “It is a fact and on record that there are basic requirements for bonded terminals to attain before it could be licensed by the Customs. And for the purposes of this postulation, it is a fact and mandatory that before any bonded terminal can be approved for operations, there must be evidence of a conducive working environment, security of goods and officers of the Service, office structure with at least two designated import officers with computerised system connected to ICT, and most importantly a minimum of two forklifts, two cranes, truck and cutter, etc to be procured and made available.
“It is, therefore, most unfortunate, embarrassing, and regrettable that most of t terminal operators do not have functional forklifts and cranes to enable proper Customs examination of laden containers.
“The implication of improper Customs examination under the circumstances of insecurity in Nigeria can better be imagined. It is also regrettable that matters of non-disclosure of items concealed, falsely declared, and wrongly described are most risky due to improper Customs examination.
“All these avoidable infractions lead to gross revenue loss to the federation account and inherent insecurity-related issues. NAGAFF wishes to remind the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and the Management Board the essence of the presidential mandate, which is to enhance productivity in the Customs ports and approved border locations.
“The inherent abuse of privileges by the terminal operators tends to present the Customs as being weak in carrying out oversight functions to supervise its mandate and statutory duty.
“Therefore, if the terminal operators do not recognise the essence of integrity in carrying out their functions in accordance with the provisions of the Customs regulations, the need to withdraw their authorisation to operate becomes inevitable.”
NAGAFF charged Customs to see the terminal operators’ actions as an obstruction to the lawful duty of officers and men of the Service as contained in section 11 of the Customs Excise and Management Act, CEMA as amended CAP 45 of 2004.