The Nigeria Customs Service has charged members of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) to assist the service in fishing out bad eggs among its officers, especially at the Tin Can Island Port where fraudsters have been able to gain access into the customs software to import vehicles illegally and evade duty payments.
At a meeting between the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) and the National executives of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) led by its National President; Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike in Abuja yesterday, Assistant Comptroller General of customs, Fatade Aderinle said the hackers were able to gain access into the Customs Processing Centre (CPC) at Tin Can Customs recently with the help of some corrupt officers within.
Fatade told the delegation that one of the hackers has been identified and that his pictures have now been pasted at the enforcement unit at the Tin Can command, even as he begged ANLCA executives to assist the customs in fishing out the culprits and their cohorts at the command.
“We have been in a relationship for a number of years and you need to assist us in getting our foot right in getting our revenue, most of these boys are the same people who filter into the CPC at Tin Can when they are not there and made out with the software they are using to collect revenue, it also happened few days ago”
“If you know any of the officers who partake in this, don’t mind to expose them, I remember when we were in Apapa those days, we know some junior officers specializing in illegal activities, during the time of Okereke, and seven officers were dismissed within seven days”
“ So, for those equally working in the port to siphon our revenue, oblige us with these officers because we know that these boys cannot do it alone, how would they get into our CPC without the knowledge of an officer, definitely there must be an insider assisting them, if we don’t do this, the hacking will continue” he said
Also speaking, National President of ANLCA, Nwabunike called for mutual relationship between the customs and ANLCA members. Some of the challenges he highlighted were that officers using their discretion to issue value on imported vehicles whereas there ought to be a uniformed value on imported vehicles.
He also lamented the refusal of customs to transfer overtime cargoes to approved bonded terminals, even as he charged the Comptroller General of Customs on the removal of multiple checkpoints by Federal Operations Unit (FOU).
“We are calling for mutual relationship knowing full well that you licensed us, we are not like other mushroom associations who say that customs are not licensing them, we are very proud of the customs and we would continue to work with the customs. We want to take the customs brokerage bill to the National Assembly so that we would be chattered”, he added.
Also speaking, Chairman of Board of Trustees (BOT) of the association, Henry Njoku called on the customs boss to implement the report of a committee which the CGC had set up to come up with a uniformed value on vehicles.
He said “I was in the committee, our former president was in the committee, the current secretary is in the committee, we held several meetings and came up with a document, if the resolutions in that document are implemented, most of what we are discussing here would have been in the past”
“If you go to Ghana, you will see how it is being done, people are not supposed to be going for any valuation on vehicles; these things should be on the database, so that everybody knows what to pay at any point in time. We also talked about reducing the level at which people have direct contact with officers, if we reduce the contact level, some of the challenges will be addressed”.
While responding to the issues that were raised at the meeting, the Customs boss, Hameed Ali assured the ANLCA delegation of maximum cooperation of the customs in bringing about uniformity in value of vehicles.
“Let me commend the entire members of ANLCA for the smooth transition that has taken place, let me also underscore that we worked hand in hand with the last administration and I learnt a lot, the organization helped me to understand a lot on their role, I thank the former management and welcome the new management”
“There is a committee and they have sent in their recommendation, we would sit down and look at it and address the issues, if there is need to call you back, we would do that so that together we would look at the gray areas, but the bottom line is that we must work together, most importantly, customs need to modernize”.