The Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, has lampooned the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over what he described as an attempt by the organisation to demonise a clearing agent who was recently shot in the leg by a Customs Officer attached to Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A.
Recall that a member of the roving team of the Customs Federal Operation Unit(FOU) had shot one Adeyemi Quadri a clearing agent at the Mile 2axis on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway while driving a Toyota Rav 4 2019 model, that was cleared at the Tin Can port. The Customs alleged that the clearing agent was a tout.
The Nigeria Customs Service had explained that the incident happened when the victim was trying to obstruct the officer in his duty of arresting the vehicle, which the Customs claimed ran foul of standard clearing procedure.
However, speaking to Shipping Position Daily in his office on Thursday, the ANLCA Vice stated that the claim by NCS that the young agent was a tout is a bid to bury the unfortunate incident that could have claimed the life of the agent.
He stressed that the claim by the Customs is far from the truth, while challenging the National PRO of the service to provide proof of his claims that the shot victim was not a Customs broker, but a tout.
He said: “I am speaking as the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment Nig. Limited and a senior stakeholder in the industry and a licensed customs broker.
“I read the statement made by DC Attah, the National PRO of Customs on the unfortunate incident at Mile Two where one of our members was shot and I can say that he goofed.
“He goofed in the sense that his statement was misleading Nigerians to believe that what happened at mile two was as a result of miscreants who attempted to take the gun of the officer.
“I challenge him to provide the proof of his allegations, as a stakeholder and genuine agent, the onus is on me to let the world know the true position of the incident.
”What happened was that a customs agent, having followed the due process of clearance procedure, applied for valuation on 2019 RAV4 Toyota model and the vehicle was valued at over $12,000 with the surface duty of N1.7 million and other charges which amounted to N2.345million, which he duly paid.
‘After this, the vehicle was duly released and he took delivery of it and drove it out of the port.
‘At a point along the Mile two road, he was accosted in a commando style by one of the members of the roving team of FOU. One of the team members, whom we suspected was not in a stable mind, shot the agent.
“This was what happened to the agent who was shot. He was working with a licensed Customs brokerage firm and that made his a genuine customs broker unlike what Attah wanted the world to know”
“But instead of Customs to come openly and apologise that what happened was a mistake, what they now did was to label him as miscreant and tout who is not a freight forwarder.
”This was an attempt to call a dog a bad name before they hang him, but I disagree and challenge Attah to prove it”.
‘Under CEMA, there is what is called precarious liability which means that whatever any of the staff does, the owner of the license under whose the staff operates will be held liable.
”This particular staff paid all the duty accrued to the government.
”We shall not accept the attempt by the Customs to label the agent as a miscreant”, he declared.
Farinto who further informed that the clearing agent paid the necessary duty buttressed his point with documents showing indeed that the shot young clearing agent indeed pay the full duty for the vehicle
He explained further that: “The documents state that the Vehicle, which is a RAV4 Toyota 2019 model was valued at $12,748 with surface duty of N1,700 ,080.00 using an exchange rate of N381 to a dollar and 35 per cent rate of duty and HS Code 8703.
“The document also showed that the vehicle was examined by a Deputy Comptroller of Customs named Nwakwo with service Number 4115, signed and dated the form March 15th, 2021.
“In the Assessment Notice by the Customs, the surface duty and other charges assessed and duly paid was N2,345,929.00
“The breakdown of the assessment and payment include: N1,700,080.00 as surface duty, N119,006.00 as surcharge, N24,287.00 as ETLS and N502,556.00 as VAT. The total amount assessed and paid was N2,345,929.00”.
While lamenting the injustice meted to the young agent, Farinto stated that the FOU team had no justification to shoot the agent having paid all the necessary customs duty and charges.
While accusing the Customs of hiding under the absence of uniform tariffs on vehicles which he alleged they used to harass and extort agents.
He however called on Civil Society group to look into the matter, even as he demanded that the officer who shot the agent should be subjected to psychological test.
“The officer who pulled the trigger was psychologically unstable, from our own investigations, we found out that this particular officer has been living on psychotropic substance.
“I challenge the Customs to bring out the officer who shot our colleague and subject him to psychiatric analysis and clinical examination.
‘Nigerians will be surprised at the level of psychotropic substance in his system.
”When the agent was shot, this particular officer was even threatening to give him water so he could die. There is no sensible officer with weapon who will say that.
“We are not at war and I am challenging the customs to parade this officer and subject him to necessary examination to determine his state of mind”.