By Levinus Nwabughiogu
A Bill seeking to repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act yesterday passed for second reading in the House of Representatives
This is coming 63 years after the piece of legislation came into effect during colonial rule in the country.
Titled “Bill for an Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap.C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the Nigeria Customs Service (Establishment) Bill; and for Related Matters”, it is sponsored by Leke Joseph Abejide, representing Yagba East, Yagba West, and Mopamuro Federal Constituency of Kogi State.
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill at plenary, Abejide, who is incidentally the Chairman, House Committee on Customs, said the extant law had become obsolete and ineffective for the operations of Nigerian Customs Service.
Abejide said: “Before us today is A Bill for An Act to Repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and to Enact an Act to establish the Nigeria Custom Service Act, 2021. The need for a holistic overhaul of our Customs and Excise legislation cannot be overemphasized in view of its contribution to fiscal and national policy development.
“Since 1958, more than half a century ago, the Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act has not undergone any major reform. You will agree with me that in today’s competitive world, the Act, its Regulations, and its Operational Guidelines are archaic, obsolete, and no longer in tandem with modern day challenges, and this has unfortunately reduced measurably the accruing revenue against the volume of trade.”
The lawmaker also gave some highlights of the objectives and benefits of the bill.
According to him, the bill, if successfully passed into law, will enable the collation of all Customs and Excise legislation into a single compendium of Customs and Excise Act to facilitate easy reference and easy knowledge-driven Customs and Excise policies.
The Act, he said, would also position the Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable in order to recruit the required number of officers they needed to man the nation’s porous border stations.
“The Nigeria Customs service presently has 15,349 officers instead of 30,000 officers needed for the Service to function optimally.
”The current 7 per cent cost of collection from Duties payment is not enough to pay salaries of officers, not to talk of improving the infrastructures.
”For this reason this bill provides for additional funding system based on 4% FOB, according to international best practice, to address funding problems, and to reposition the Service for improved efficiency and service delivery.
“Making the Act more readable to the understanding of the Principal Stakeholders thereby deviating from hitherto strict legal drafting of the aged.
“Providing stiffer punishments for offenders to act as deterrence for serious economic crimes of Customs and Excise oriented, thereby encouraging more revenue in the area of fine payment.”