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LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CUSTOMS SECTOR

The advent of Buhari’s civilian regime has been accompanied by a number of significant changes in the Nigerian customs sector, the most apparent of course being the recent change in leadership-  Dikko Inde Abdullahi has been replaced by Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) in the position of Comptroller-General of Customs.

 

And the Colonel has not wasted much time in setting out his primary agenda going forward for the agency. As of September 10, 2015, he was reported as having re-stated his mandate to undertake reforms and re-structuring to enhance the capacity of Nigeria Customs Service to generate more revenue, telling senior officers of the agency that the mandate he was given by the President consists of “three basic things: go to Customs, reform Customs, restructure Customs and increase the revenue generation, simple.”

 

As you can imagine, shipping companies like ourselves, importers, exporters, clearing agencies, and indeed all parties vested in the trans-border trade, are very interested in knowing the full ramifications of this agenda. Does this mean that customs agents will be probing deeper into our pockets, and further slashing our profit margins? Or, will we be assured of greater quality of service for our money at the ports? Or, will the agency be working hard to ensure that a greater part of monies paid by us to customs officials will actually end up in government coffers, instead of serving to line the personal wallets of agents themselves?

 

Surely we speak for all, when we say that we hope either or both of the latter two scenarios turns out to be the case, and not the first. Ugochukwu Nnadi, an official of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), as a matter of fact, is reported to have implored the Customs Comptroller General to use his office to advise the government to consider reversing some policies including some commodities on the import prohibition list to help maximize revenue generation. He noted that restriction of importation of certain items into the country has caused more harm than good for the country. Likewise, The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) on its part, asked Ali to look into un-receipted payments made by shippers to Customs operatives.

 

All that being said; we wish Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali, a successful and fruitful tenure as Comptroller-General of Customs. God’s speed, Sir!!