Port Order: Customs Flout VP’s Directive, Re-Invite Sacked Agencies Back To The Port

Four months after the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo issued an executive order, expelling some government agencies from operating inside the nation’s seaport; the Nigeria Customs Service says it has re-invited all the sacked government agencies back to the port.Speaking at a forum on ease of doing business in Lagos last week, Assistant Controller of Customs in charge of joint cargo examination at Apapa port, Mr. Idris Yaya said that customs has simplified the process that would enable all the agencies to come back to the port to carry out their operations. He noted all the sacked agencies are now linked with the Nigeria Customs Integrated System (NICIS) and its Single Window platform which enables them to view all that is going on at the Customs command and for them to indicate their interest in any container that concerns their operation. As part of efforts to implement the Executive Order on the ease of doing business at the seaports, Managing Director of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman had said that only seven agencies are authorized to operate in the port. According to her, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) are no longer allowed to have representatives in the port or partake in the process of cargo clearance. The NPA Managing Director had listed Nigeria Customs Service, NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration ad Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Immigration Service and Port Health Services as the agencies authorized by government to operate in the port. But speaking at the town hall meeting organized by SON in Lagos last week, Mr. Yaya stated that “recently, the pronouncement was given by the VP on the ease of doing business that we should collapse the examination bay, and all agencies that are supposed to be in the port should be at the centre which I am the coordinator in Apapa”  “I want to tell you that all agencies, none is exited at the port now, because I am the one that upload all the containers to be examined for the day, this is why all government agencies have been asked to link up with customs ASYCUDA and NCIS, we have opened the single window for everybody to access, SON has linked up with us on NICIS, and all others, they are now back to carry out their operations”, he said. The Customs examination officer stated that the agency has been in the vanguard of ease of doing business before the pronouncement by the Vice President.  He recalled that prior to the executive order, customs had introduced various trade platforms such as; e-payment, fast-track, ASYCUDA, Direct Traders Input, Inland Container Depots. “The fast track is meant for honest importers and importers of large containers. What we are saying today is compliance, the clearing agents should advise their importers” he said.