The National Council of Managing Directors of License Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has accused the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) of condoling lawlessness among customs officers despite his earlier promise to instill discipline in the service.
This is even as the association has called for the introduction of pre-shipment inspection of cargoes into Nigeria as practiced by other countries in order to reduce delays at Nigerian ports.
Apapa chapter Chairman of the association, Mr. Emeka Enwelu in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in Lagos last week said that, there is an increase in the level of disrespect for superior authority, especially among junior officer cadre on the CG of Customs Special Task Force.
He said that most times, when a cargo is released by a Deputy Controller at the terminals, the cargo would be intercepted at the gate by an inspector, purportedly acting under the Customs CG’s instructions.
He said that 48 hour cargo clearance cannot be successful at Nigerian ports due to the activities of Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of Customs arresting already cleared goods coming from the port.
Enwelu also lamented that the series of cargo alert emanating from the ports are gradually killing legitimate trade, even as he called on the Customs administration to minimize the rate of inimical alert coming from various units of customs.
Speaking on the rate of indiscipline in the service, he said "The truth remains that as a leader, one thing is for you to give instruction, and another thing is for the instruction to be carried out by the field officers. We see outright over zealousness on the part of some junior officers"
"The ones that commit most of these things are the downright junior cadre officers. The typical example is where Deputy Comptroller in charge of a terminal will release a consignment and the moment the container gets to the gate, an inspector will arrest the same container released by the Deputy Comptroller of Customs and says he is acting under task force. It is absurd, it does not happen within other sister paramilitary. It shows disrespect for superior authority"
"The importers and agents quarrel most times because an agent will charge, for example, ten naira believing that the ten naira will do the job only for him to go there thinking he has made all necessary payments and at the end of the day, someone will tell you that there is, valuation alert, headquarter alert and cpc alert, Enforcement alert, gate alert" he said.
According to him, many importers have abandoned their cargoes at the port because there are no procedures. He said that stakeholders spend an average of five to six hours accessing the port on daily basis.
He advised that the way out is for Nigeria to practice pre-shipment inspection of cargoes and that experts should be brought into the system to change the way of doing things.
He also said that "One of the core elements of trade facilitation is that we must have dispute resolution mechanism which must be independent of customs and that is what is done internationally"
"My recommendation is that we should comply with World Customs Organization (W.C.O) which is a convention signed by Nigeria customs service and every other customs in the world after the 9/11 incident in the United state of America"
"The convention stipulate that we must pre-inspect our cargo and must supply necessary information before you load the ship but we are not doing what is stipulated in the convention"
"If we comply with the convention, it will reduce time of doing business, it will reduce cost of doing business and it will equally reduce a number of ammunitions and weapons of mass destruction which may find their way into the country", he said.