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COVID-19: Terminal Operators Decry Customs’ Manual Examinations Of Cargo At Seaports

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Seaports Customs Terminal Operators

COVID-19: Terminal Operators Decry Customs’ Manual Examinations Of Cargo At Seaports

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has decried the high rate of manual examination of cargoes at the nation’s seaports and asked the Nigeria Customs Service to deploy technology to drive the process.

Haastrup, who spoke in Lagos at the weekend, said manual examination of cargoes is not efficient and does not promote social distancing.

She said, “We have a situation where people must visit the port physically to do Customs documentation and cargo examination before they can take delivery of their consignments. This is not safe at this time and it is also inefficient.

“The Nigeria Customs Service should do everything possible to install functional scanners at the port to reduce the high rate of physical examination of cargoes and to reduce human contacts. Customs should also make it possible for consignees to process their release documents and make necessary duty payments online without having to visit the port or Customs commands.

“There is also need to reduce the number of government agencies that participate in cargo examination at the port in addition to reducing the number of checks carried out on cleared cargos both inside and outside the port premises. Customs’ clearing process must become smart at this time.”

The STOAN Chairman also said that due to declining oil revenues, Nigeria must begin to make a deliberate attempts to shift its balance of trade.

“Nigeria must move quickly from being a net importer to a net exporter of food. The government will need to support farmers for better agricultural yields that will be attractive to the international market. The farmers will also need to be supported in reducing wastages experienced during harvests and in the course of getting their produce to the market. Funding and logistics support for the farmers is also of great importance at this time.

“Adequate storage, inventory management, and transportation are key logistics activities that represent the most serious constraints facing our agric export today. These will need to be addressed by governments at all levels.

Government should also endeavour to simplify the cumbersome processes and unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with documentation and processing of export cargoes at our ports,” she said.

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Haastrup said at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, terminal operators engaged the Federal Government on the need to ensure that the nation’s seaports remained open during lockdowns so as to ensure that the supply chain was not disrupted.

“Terminal operators and the Nigerian Ports Authority worked hard to keep the ports during the lockdown running because we are aware of the importance of the seaports to the wellbeing of our people. We knew the ports had to remain open to ensure that there was no shortage of food, drugs and other essential supply to Nigerians.

“The shipping sector is key in securing the continuity of economic activities, ensuring supply chains to industries, transportation of essential goods, including energy and food supplies, and transportation of vital medical and protective equipment, and supplies,

“It is imperative for the fight against COVID-19, the supply of essentials, as well as for increasing the chance of global economic recovery on the other side of the outbreak, that maritime and connected transport are allowed to continue, and that government works actively to support the sector throughout the period of the crisis.

“I am happy that the President and the Nigerian Ports Authority saw the merit in this argument and classified the ports and shipping operations as essential services during the lockdown. I must also give kudos to NPA, Customs and terminal operators for ensuring that the ports operated optimally during this period.

“In addition to sustaining operations, we donated N700million to the Federal Government to support the country’s effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease. We also supported the port community through massive awareness campaigns and the donation of various personal protective items such as facemasks, hand gloves, coveralls, hand sanitizers and infrared thermometers to NPA, Customs and other government agencies at the various port locations across the country,” she added.

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Customs Corner

Oyo/Osun Customs Area Command Records Over Six Billion Naira in May 2024

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Oyo/Osun Customs Area Command Records Over Six Billion Naira in May 2024.

Oyo/Osun Customs Area Command Records Over Six Billion Naira in May 2024.

…Makes Seizures with Duty Paid Value of ₦129,854,100.00

By Vivian Daniel

In a demonstration of resilience, the Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, on 13 June 2024, at the operational headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, announced significant milestones in revenue generation and anti-smuggling activities.

The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Command, Comptroller Ben Oramalugo, during a press briefing, stated that the Command generated ₦6,335,842,600 for May 2024.

According to the CAC, cumulatively, when added to the revenue generated from January to April 2024, the sum of ₦30,664,247,939.15 has been generated from January to May 2024. This represents a 5.2% increase compared to the ₦29,154,853,722.73 generated during the same period in 2023.

He noted that in its anti-smuggling operations, the Command witnessed numerous successful operations from April to June 2024, resulting in the seizure of several contraband items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) worth ₦129,854,100.00. These items include 504 wraps of Cannabis Sativa weighing 391.9 kg valued at ₦15,814,600.00, 600 bags (50 kg each) of foreign parboiled rice (1 trailer load) valued at ₦50,280,000.00, 274 kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) of 25 litres each (6,850 litres in total) valued at ₦5,521,500.00, 123 pieces of used tyres valued at ₦15,648,000.00, one used Mercedes-Benz truck valued at ₦30,000,000.00, and one used Nissan caravan valued at ₦12,590,000.00.

Furthermore, he informed the public that, in line with the policy thrust of the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi and the spirit of interagency collaboration, the Command had received approval to hand over the 546 wraps and 33 sacks of Cannabis Sativa confiscated to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Oyo State Command. He also stated that the Command plans to auction seized PMS due to its flammability.

Comptroller Oramalugo reiterated his stance against the worsening illegitimate trade activities plaguing the nation, appreciating the officers and men of the Oyo/Osun Area Command for their unwavering support, efforts, and proactiveness in hunting down perpetrators. He acknowledged their valuable contributions to the command’s success.

“In tandem with our revenue generation efforts, the Oyo/Osun Area Command has maintained a robust stance against smuggling activities within our jurisdiction. Despite the economic hardships that often exacerbate smuggling tendencies, the officers have remained vigilant and proactive in intercepting illicit goods and apprehending perpetrators,” he said. He also commended the officers for their commitment to duty and professionalism.

He highlighted the awareness campaigns the Command has been conducting for its stakeholders, which have yielded significant results, and the introduction of advanced technology solutions in its operations.

“Our efforts to educate various stakeholders within the Command’s Area of Responsibility (AoR) on the importance of adhering to customs regulations have paid off. We have seen a significant reduction in under-declarations, contributing to the overall increase in revenue. The introduction of advanced technology solutions, such as the Nigeria Customs Service Modernisation Project, has streamlined our processes and enhanced transparency, further boosting our revenue collection capabilities,” he said.

The CAC expressed profound gratitude to the CGC Bashir Adeniyi and his management team for their continuous support, ensuring the core mandates of the service are achieved within Oyo and Osun States.

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Customs Wildlife Unit Engages Stakeholders on Import/Export Regulations

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Author: Lucy Nyambi.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Special Wildlife Unit has engaged stakeholders on the need to understand Government policies on wildlife.

The meeting, which was held at the Customs Training College in Lagos on Friday, 07 June 2024, had in attendance freight forwarders within the Murtala Mohammed Airport Environs.

Declaring the event open, the Commandant of the Training College, DC Haniel Hadison, stated that the meeting aligns with the Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi’s directive to ensure that the NCS continues to collaborate with relevant stakeholders.

“This is in line with the Comptroller-General of Customs’s clarion call for collaboration and synergy, “we have stakeholders coming from the airport to the wildlife unit domiciled here at the Customs Training College to deliberate on the way forward. It’s a continuous exercise; this is just the beginning, but it’s a work in progress, “the commandant stated.

The National Coordinator of the Special Wildlife Unit, AC Abimbola Isafiade, highlighted the importance of the meeting, saying, “The freight forwarders have some misconceptions about the activities of the customs; a lot of them think we’re trying to stop their businesses from flowing, and so they wanted to know why there has been a lot of restrictions and their consignments being put on hold”.

“So we have been able to explain to them that some laws have to be complied with before any export or import of wildlife product will be carried out, what the procedures are, as it relates to the shipment, the legal trade in wildlife product and where it is illegal trade, how and why we will not allow it”, Isafiade explained.

She noted that help desk officers have been assigned to their business locations to help make enquiries and lodge their complaints, which will be addressed at the national stakeholders forum, where customs will participate.

The National Coordinator appreciated the CGC and his management team for supporting and encouraging the Special Wildlife Unit of the service.

Stakeholders commended the service for working tirelessly to ensure that things are correctly done and regulations followed.

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Customs Corner

Customs plans to Set-up Technical Working Group to Ease Healthcare Cross-Border Movement

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Author: Lucy Nyambi.

The Nigeria Customs Service is set to establish a technical working group to implement the Memorandum of Understanding of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and World Health Organization (WHO) on clearance of medical goods.

The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Adewale Adeniyi, made this known at a Round-table dialogue on the healthcare sector on Friday, 14 June 2024, at the Customs Training College, Ikeja, Lagos.

The CGC acknowledged the importance of the healthcare sector in Nigeria, especially its role in ensuring national security.

He said, “We are here at the instance of the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN) to discuss mutual concerns, issues that have bothered the HFN regarding the problems that they encounter in the clearance of medical equipment, particularly life-saving equipment”.

“One of the things we have said is that we need to implement the WCO and WHO’s Memorandum of Understanding on clearance of medical goods, which will involve creating special corridors for those goods; we are not strangers to that. We already have schemes targeted at such sectors”, the CGC explained.

CGC Adeniyi highlighted some of the agreements reached at the meeting, saying, “We will take the first step towards establishing the technical working group, and virtually all the members of the proposed working group are here, so they are already aware”.

“Some of these are things that we can deliver almost immediately if we are talking about processes and procedures, yes, we can deliver those almost immediately, but if we are talking about changing codes and classification, it requires a wider level of consultations, a more robust engagement with the Ministry of Finance and other agencies that are involved”, he emphasised.

The CGC explained that the technical working group will comprise Customs, HFN and other critical stakeholders like the Ministry of Finance, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, office of the National Security Adviser and other stakeholders.

He restated President Bola Tinubu’s vision and passion for ensuring the delivery of a sound healthcare system to Nigerians, “we have a listening ear in government, and we will articulate this position, and hopefully by the next quarter, we could be having some of these delivered”.

The President of HFN, Dr Pamela Ajayi, expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting. She appreciated the service for its quick response to issues affecting the healthcare sector.

“It shows that customs has a listening ear, the willingness to cooperate, to collaborate, to listen to the pains that we have as a healthcare sector”, she said, and the engagement of CGC in terms of quickly setting up this technical working group to work with us, to provide the solution that we need, we are indeed happy. We are grateful to the Customs Service for this”, she concluded.

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