Home Maritime NAGAFF appeal for increased supervision of operational officers in customs’ ports, borders  
Maritime - February 23, 2024

NAGAFF appeal for increased supervision of operational officers in customs’ ports, borders  

 

Stanley Ihedigbo

Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, has appealed for increased supervision of the operational officers to avoid the practice of issuance of frivolous demand notes to traders who come to transact businesses in the customs ports and borders.

In his statement made available to The Mirror, tagged;’ Avoid being a Father Christmas when making declarations for customs duty assessment at the customs ports and borders’, Aniebonam, stated that without prejudice to the desire of the federal government to collect revenue for the use of providing public goods and services, let them remember that customs duty assessment and collection is a function of cargo throughput, rate of duty, cost and freight, and  the action should  be transparent and predictable.

He added that it is unfortunately disheartening that most freight forwarders have continued to inflict upon their principals avoidable additional duty payment as a result of non-disclosure of the actual content of laden containers in their transaction for customs purposes

“The trade policy regime of Nigeria under destination inspection makes it so simple and straightforward the need for self-assessment and declaration for customs purposes. In other words, freight forwarders are at liberty, as a declarant, to make an honest declaration for customs purposes. When this happens there shall not be a room for customs to issue additional duty with penalty thereto. The avoidable penalty is merely being a Father Christmas to the federal government of Nigeria.

“An intelligent freight forwarding practitioner should have noted that the customs may not look the other way over unprofessional conduct on trade goods. In other words, you are simply creating an unsolicited opportunity for the customs to rake into the federation account more money based on your unpatriotic act. This is because the additional penalty of 25% surcharge for non-disclosure is quite a huge amount of money to the federation account

“Not even now that the revenue target of the service is quite challenging, it means that the more you try to circumvent customs laws and regulations on traded goods other than prohibited items the more customs smiles home with more revenue. This is because whatever you try doing to the contrary definitely shall be revealed during customs examination.” He advised.

He noted that before the emergence of this present administration, Mr. Emefiele, the former CBN governor, might have been a disaster to foreign trade facilitation in Nigeria.

“This man Emefiele, indeed, dabbled into physical policy trade goods instead of monetary policy which is his primary assignment, and consequently messed and distorted the entire trade economy of Nigeria. This is because he appeared to have limited knowledge about customs laws. He barred well over 41 trade goods from having access to forex. Indeed it is a fact that every import and export transaction in Nigeria must have a form M duly registered in any commercial bank of choice.

“Here we are, Mr. Emefiele never realised that his sole action of executive rascality has no effect on customs laws as an act of national assembly. And so technically Emefiele banned these goods without knowing that customs laws have provisions to transact businesses with shippers whose import documents are incomplete.

“The multiplier effects of executive rascality of Mr. Emefiele became the tonic for traders to engage massively in the practice of non-disclosure for customs purposes. This they do knowing that customs shall issue additional duty on those 41 items thereafter examination. Under reference it is a fact that the pre-arrival assessment report of the customs as a risk management tool is advisory. Indeed a declarant has the opportunity to make additional declaration in the single entry declaration form for customs purposes. This made nonsense of Mr. Emefiele executive rascality. He, however, succeeded in distorting customs efforts on trade modernisation and facilitation responsibility

“Anyway let’s forget the past since the president of Nigeria saw reason to reverse the order of Mr. Emefiele on those 41 items to enjoy forex incentives.  There is no need any more for traders to shy away from being compliant to import and export regulations. This write-up seeks to draw the attention of practitioners and to advise that they return to basic rules and practices of making genuine declaration for customs purposes. This has become necessary to assist the customs in their modernisation efforts and fast clearance of cargo out of customs control within 48hrs.

“And for those who refuse to key into due compliance to the rules, the consequences of non-disclosure may include seizure of such trades in accordance with the customs laws. Even though customs may look the other way discretionally, take note that 25% penalty of short collection is huge and avoidable expenditure on a trader”, he stressed.

Aniebonam, further said that the freight forwarders must stop being a Father Christmas, by making honest declaration for customs purposes and protect the investment of your principal.

“Therefore, revenue collection must not be a do or die affair. Going forward is to ensure due compliance to rules and facilitation of international trade. Compliance should be between the public and private operators. It is our belief the Comptroller General of Customs shall see the need to intervene on matters of high exchange rate and Customs question. The urgent need to deploy discretional powers and exercise his authority to appraise value on imported goods is most necessary due to avoidable inflationary situation in the Nigeria economy. Nigerians are definitely very hungry and worried”, he stated.

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