By Eguono Odjegba
The Area Controller of the Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Comptroller Ibrahim Malanta, has claimed that non-compliance with import guidelines by importers and traders was the reason for its counter-check operations.
In the counter-check operations Customs operatives gives clean bill and releases cargo only for another set of operatives to interdict and seize same cargo at a different point.
Yusuf who was fielding question from journalists after presenting the Command’s performance scorecard for the year ended 2021, took time to explain the unfortunate and controversial operations saying that no matter how much Nigerians frown at it, only increased compliance by importers will lead to the stoppage of counterchecks outside the ports.
He said, “Customs release and customs intercepts; well, all these kinds of issues are as a result of lack of compliance. If we are sure of our compliance customs will not stop what customs has already released. The point is that we are not compliant.
“If you are compliant, you can look anyone who stops you on the road eyeball to eyeball, and tell him you have declared the true content of the cargo and paid the true value. As a Nigerian, nobody should intimidate you, but because you’re not sincere, that is why we are having this problem.”
He said if compliance is institutionalized by individual importers like corporate importers, there will be far less non-compliance and hence more imports will enjoy cargo fast track clearance scheme, which is otherwise open to every importer, small or big.
“Have you seen any manufacturer or conglomerate who are very much compliant with their declaration been stopped on the road? Never! We have a lot of ways that will assist the system to facilitate trade, particularly when you look at the fast track scheme, which allows cargo to move seamlessly from the ports to the conglomerates, importers warehouses.
“For those complaining about stoppage of goods on the roads, Customs has layers of control, not only at the seaports. If you go to the border, there are layers of control; if you think you have jumped this one, you will not jump the other one. And this counter controls are yielding positive results, particularly in terms of aiding national security.
“If you go to federal operations units and look at the statistics of their performance, you will be surprised.”