The PTML Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has explained that the recent protest by licensed customs agents at the command was an unnecessary reaction to the new internal control mechanism which was put in place by the new controller of the command, Mr Dan Kuffi (a Comptroller).
Scores of clearing agents had protested the reorganisation of the procedure for releasing imported vehicles, saying that it was wrong for the new administration to relieve junior officers of their hitherto responsibilities of being releasing officers.
Under the previous arrangement, it was a common practice to see clearing agents carrying sensitive documents by hand from one table to another and across offices.
Giving an insight into what led to the mass protest which recently temporarily paralysed normal clearance of goods at the command, its public relations officer (PRO), Prince Steve Okomah told our correspondent last week that when the new controller assumed duties he was bent on blocking all possible areas of revenue leakages, hence the decision to reorganise vehicle release process in the command.
According to him, “the controller wanted to reorganise the vehicle area so that documents can come in and go out on time and also eliminate the impact of camp boys, he wants accountable officers in case anything happens”, he told Shipping Position Weekly. “Agents were carrying documents to officers by hand to release, so he wants eliminate that”, he examined further.
According to him, the controller created three groups to be headed by one deputy comptroller each as the releasing officers, adding that the controller knows that at the levels of a deputy comptroller, there can not be involvement in any dirty activities. He said it was a deliberate policy of the area controller tat henceforth administrative jobs will be handled by the inspectorate ranks while the superintendent cadre will carry out examination and the assistant controllers will countersign and the deputies controller will release.
He expressed shock at the eruption of protests by clearing agents wondering why agents will teach customs how to do its work and what interests the agents have in the matter. “It s not their business how we carry out our assignment”, he stressed, even as he added that the area controller has already told the leadership of the various clearing agents groups that his doors are wide open for suggestion and that his concern is to ensure that there is no revenue leakage and that the correct tings are done.