.Senate

  • Saya Customs operating under the 1958 colonial laws was  not the best interest of this great Nation

By Henry Umoru, ABUJA

THE Senate yesterday passed for second reading, a bill that seeks to repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and to enact an Act to establish the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2021 which was enacted 63 years ago.

According to the Senate, it became imperative to carry out the repeal of the Act against the backdrop that in this digital age, trade facilitation is the hallmark of any professional organisation and customs administration, operating under the 1958 colonial laws was not the best interest of the country, especially for a country like Nigeria that is grappling with the serious economic downturn. 

The bill is titled ” 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 Customs Service Act 2021( SB.286).

In his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, the sponsor and Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, Senator Francis Alimikhena, All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo North who noted that the  Bill was read the First Time on Wednesday, 29th January 2020, said that “the proposed Bill seeks to bring the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) in line with modern-day reality. An analysis of the Customs and Excise Management Act conducted in 2009 found the law to be severely lacking with respect to the World Customs Organization’s Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). The Customs Excise Management Act (CEMA) as it is today does not contain provisions to support the use of electronic documents, signatures and electronic payment as well as application of Risk management and host of other information technology that are applicable to Modern customs Administration.”

The Bill after scaling the second reading was referred to the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who presided over plenary, to report back in four weeks. 

Senator Alimikhena said that the laws to be repealed are the Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended; Customs and Excise Management (Disposal of Goods) Act Cap C46 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended and Customs and Excise (Special Panel and other Provisions) Act Cap C47 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended. Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act No. 20 of 2004; as amended. 

Others are the Nigeria Customs and Excise Board Act, Cap N100, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended; Pre-Shipment Inspection of Export Act, Cap P25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended and the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Import Act, Cap P26, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; as amended. 

According to him, the proposed Nigeria Customs Service Bill, 2021 has a total of 283 Sections organized into 35 Parts and one (1) Schedule. 

Senator Alimikhena said, “Custom administrations is globally recognized as a key indicator for driving economic growth and trade facilitation between countries. Our dear country Nigeria has experienced many changes in government, many regimes have come with different laws and political focuses without changes in Customs Administration.

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is unarguably one of the oldest institutions of government in this country with a history spanning as far as 1891. As one of the frontline organizations that contributes to the National Security and Economic growth of the country the Law regulating it should be up to date. 

” Curiously the enabling law of the Nigerian Customs Services which is Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) has not substantially benefitted from transformation experienced in the history of the Nation law reform. Over 100 years of the Nigeria Customs Service various reform and reorganization committees have come and gone without critically looking at the very archaic laws that govern the Customs. In this digital age, trade facilitation is the hallmark of any professional customs administration, operating under the 1958 colonial laws is not in the best interest of this great Nation. A nation that is grappling with a serious economic downturn. 

“Another important shortfall of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) is that it does not legally provide for the establishment of the Nigerian Customs Service. 

“It is important to note that even within the current Nigerian Customs Service legal framework, the executive understood the need for reforms and has proceeded with changes in Customs processes and clearing procedures in a bid to keep up with modern reality. This lends credence for modern custom legislation to cater for current realities. The ideal situation for a transparent Customs system will require that all the enabling laws guiding the operations of the Nigeria Customs Service would be consolidated into a single reference document instead of the Nigeria Customs Service Legal Authority scattered in multiple enactments. 

“The Bill is aimed at modernizing the Customs Service making it competitive in the global quest for trade facilitation. The Bill will make the Nigeria Customs Service a legal organization under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance and a Board that will operate in an efficient manner to serve the Nigerian public. Collection of revenue and trade facilitation will be substantially improved with full implementation of modern Customs procedures which include payments made electronically rather than by cash to reduce the possibility of corruption and increase efficiency in the system. 

“My appeal, distinguished colleagues is to support the enactment of this Bill so as to empower the Nigeria Customs Service to be at Par with International Standard and to enhance the protection of society against smuggling, illegal weapons, narcotics, counterfeit goods, other trade-related crimes and money laundering. 

“In compliance to Order 77(3) of our Standing Rules, this Bill has no financial implication as the Nigeria Customs Service is already in existence.”

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