Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Hammed Ali, has warned Nigerian importers and their freight forwarders to be ready to drop the tradition of trade malpractices now or be prepared to go to jail.
Ali handed down the warning when he met stakeholders in the shipping industry at Apapa Port, Lagos.
He made it very clear that his regime will be that of change from the past decades of corruption in the system to the proper rule of trade regulations.
Identifying under-declaration, concealment, under-valuation of imports as among such trade malpractices, Ali told the stakeholders to do away with such fraudulent practices or face the wrath of the law.
He said that since the Service has laws that can take care of such fraudulent practices, he does not need new laws to ensure that there is a change, adding that those who keep deaf ears to trade regulations would be sent to jail.
He also warned customs officers to beware of corruption, adding that no customs officer will be spared if found in corrupt practices.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Alhaji Hammed Ali is currently on the tour of the Lagos ports, and has already held discussions with officers and men of the Service.
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarder Nigeria, AREFFN, and President, the African Federation of Freight Forwarders, AFFF, Chief Lexzy Nwagwu, advised the Customs boss to come up with a strategy for the industry. Without a plan, Nwangwu said the task would be cumbersome and clumsy.
He calls for long term policies that would facilitate trade while also urging the CGC to address the issues of “incessant alert on jobs that are Letter on Credit, LC, and “the jacking up of prices by valuation officers.”
He said that with current government policy insisting that payments for imported goods be remitted through banks, the valuation seat would be sending wrong signal abroad if they keep hiking prices. “What it means is that you are telling the seller that the price that they sold to the Nigerian importer is too low. This should not be.”
Also the President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Chief Eugene Nweke said he hopes to find out what the CGC’s vision and operational roadmap is.
“We will listen to him and recommend adjustments where necessary.”
He added that there’s need for a policy thrust and for improved efforts at maintaining necessary trade infrastructure.
Identifying the key interest of all stakeholders as cargo, Chief Nweke emphasized the need to define cargo interest in a way that revenue is generated, employment is created and trade facilitated.
The huge decline in revenue generation has been one major worry of the Service this year.
The rising inflation resulting from the devaluation of naira, low oil price, the Central Bank’s policy restricting FOREX on 41 import commodities and the deplorable state of the ports access roads are some reasons given for the massive drop in importation.
Stakeholders hope that the CGC’s policy thrust would turn the tide around.
Ali was appointed Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service by President Buhari on August 27, 2015.

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