“These seizures [are part of] ongoing reforms steadily turning Customs into a very crucial contributor to the national economy and security wellbeing.”
National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Joseph Attah, has said that Customs’ resolve to make Nigeria better has led to its unprecedented increase in revenue collection and seizures of high quantity of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol.
Attah, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, said the service is making accelerated progress in its core mandate due to a combination of technology, strategic manpower deployments and increased commitment to work by Customs officers.
Why did Customs introduce NICIS II as a tool for trade?
NICIS II, for those who may not know, is NCS Information System. Before now, we were operating on NICIS I and it had to be upgraded to NICIS II and what that upgrade brought to the table is its ability to block some leakages associated with NICIS I and it’s smoother, quicker and more transparent.
The result is that stakeholders now have their goods cleared quicker than before . At least from Customs zone, you know Customs is just one in the chain of clearance, so stakeholders are having clearance of their goods quicker and smoother devoid of any kind of situation that may lead to corruption in the system. That is one of the things that led to revenue increase.
In August, we recorded the highest ever monthly revenue collection in the history of the NCS with well over N140 billion .
N240bn revenue, Are we expecting more increase?
We hope that we will continue to increase revenue generated. You can never have enough, The nation needs all the revenue the NSC can bring to the table, especially at this time of challenging oil revenue accrued to the purse of the Federal Government.
Non oil revenue sector is the way to go and that is why the NSC, beyond collection of revenue thinks that our role is to continue to actively support fiscal policies of government, especially in agriculture where you see us continue to seize tons and tons of smuggled rice. This is to support our local rice farmers so that the sector can begin to be a very crucial contributor to national development.
These days you see that the local rice producers are smiling to the banks and we want them to reach a level where they can even laugh to the bank with the hope that other patriotic Nigerians will support NCS to rid out those that we consider enemies of the state, I mean smugglers.
Which area was this N140 billion generated?
It is difficult to sit down here and say that it is this particular area or that, but duty collection comes at the end of the day. We calculate contributions of all the Commands, that’s the Area Commands and duty is generated from virtually every dutiable items that comes in, of course there are higher duty items.
For instance let’s take fairly used vehicles that attracts just 35 percent duty while brand new attracts attracts additional 35 percent levy making it 70 percent.
If there are fewer brand new vehicles, it means that it will rake in low revenue to the government. The N140 billion is the cumulative of all the duties collected from all the Commands and realised from all dutiable products within that one month.
Update on arrest, prosecution of smugglers
Yes. Let me also say that the first week of September appears to be a history-setting week because we were able to calculate what we collected in the month of August and we arrived at over N140 billion which is historic.
Just when we were celebrating this feat, we also recorded historic seizure of petroleum products by officers and men of the Federal Operation Unit. That quantity has never been experienced in a very long time. We are talking of seizures that could well amount to about 90 tankers of fuel siphoned into jerry cans. Thus, it is historic for the NSC.
Recently, there were seizures of military ware in Onne and there were also seizures of ammunition in Minna and Owerri.
These kinds of seizures say one thing about the NCS and that is the fact that the ongoing reforms being carried out by the Comptroller General is steadily turning Customs into a very crucial contributor to the national economy and security wellbeing.
The World Bank report on efficiency
I have been asked this question a number of times and my answer has always been that, may be in the nearest future when the researchers wants to embark on another research, they should be careful on the respondents, because in this country people say different thing for different reasons.
For Customs to be scored low in the area of efficiency at a time when the clearance process is highly automated, the electronic platform has just been upgraded at a time when goods are being cleared from the Customs zone quicker and more efficient than ever, at a time when vices associated with the process of the past are being blocked says a lot about the integrity of that report.
It makes one begin to wonder whether those who supply the kind of information that gave birth to this report are not those who may have been affected by the blockage of the leakages.
So my advice will be that in conducting research, we should be careful about who becomes our respondents, otherwise the answers you get which will now guide or lead you to a conclusion that might sometimes be face saving answers
When they also talk about how frequent or how quick goods move from the port and arrives at the warehouse or the house of the consignee, one begins to wonder whether it is the duty of the NCS to ensure that the access roads to the ports and the borders are smooth.
So many things that are not necessarily Customs related appears to have been lumped up as been the role of NCS. And of course in Nigeria, if anything goes wrong in the port, people are quick to say it is the NCS that is responsible for such act.