By Steve Agbota, [email protected] 08033302331

“ThE Customs Area Controller, Tin-Can Island Port, Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede has  been speaking on the benefits of the automated revenue processing platform that has the Service increase its revenue  in recent months.

Speaking on the recent revenue increases recorded by the Command, Oloyode stated that the web-based application has automated the its manual processes thereby eliminating paper work, delays, document falsification and has increased revenue through enhanced processing time.

‘The VIN Valuation platform helped the Command to achieve expedited clearance process due to predictability of value-assessment, improved revenue generation,  and an enhanced ease of doing business as well as generation of accurate statistics for the Federal Government,”

He noted that some of the  modalities put in place guided in the identification of areas of revenue leakages, blocked same and leveraged on available facilities on the NICIS II platform for enhanced Risk Management Processes climaxing in accelerated Customs clearance processes, trade facilitation and ensured collection of appropriate duties and taxes.

Implementation of VIN valuation and automation of 846 procedures 

The VIN Valuation has simplified and facilitated the Customs clearance process of legitimately imported vehicles by providing a uniform, fair and neutral value across board on vehicles with identical brands, model and year of manufacture in line with the provisions of Article VII of the General Agreement on Tarifs and Trade (GATT) of 1994. The VIN Valuation platform helped the Command to achieve expedited clearance process due to predictability of value-assessment, increased revenue generation, improved ease of doing business as well as generation of accurate statistics for the Federal Government.

It is pertinent to mention that most of the initial challenges at the early stages of implementation have been reduced to the barest minimum as the Command built on both the successes and challenges of the use of the financial regime 846 for non-standard and accidented vehicles that were not captured in the VIN Valuation service on the NICIS with the use of the financial regime ‘000. The ‘846’ automated procedure was developed to allow declarants submit, monitor and track the status of their applications online and in real time.

This web-based application automated the current manual process thereby eliminating paper work, delays, document falsifications and has increased revenue through enhanced processing time. It is nostalgic to note that despite the myriad of benefits of the system, the trainings organised for the stakeholders and the creation of help desk with dedicated officers and phone numbers, recalcitrant stakeholders circumvent the platform, engage in falsification of documents, forge signatures and insist on non-compliance to the system.

Regardless, the Command is poised to continuous building on the automation, simplification, standardisation and harmonisation of all Customs processes in line with the revised Kyoto Convention and international best practices.

VIN Valuation-depreciation value

There is age for vehicles you can import into Nigeria. What we did to our system, we programmed the system to also take cognizance of the government policy of 12 years. So, if you bring in vehicles that is older than 12 years, you can’t see it on my system. I might seen your VIN in the system but there will be no value for it. In the first place, I’m supposed to seize those kind of vehicles but there is a clause in schedule 3, which says trade. So sometimes, I take those vehicles as not in that catchment of trade. So maybe it could be for personal use. But the system is a robot, it will pick the value of the ones that government’s policy allowed. So last year, it was picking 2013, but this year, even though you bring in 2008 and you want it to go, it will pick 2014. Don’t have data for all those outdated cars. Those cars are meant to be crushed and use for other things because of where we are, we still engage in cars of 2005 and 2007. So the system, instead of rejecting totally will pick 2014. You are talking on value for clearance, before what was the exchange rate? Today, I what is the exchange rate? So that has also affected the duty you pay. You can’t depreciate vehicles that are not supposed to brought in but from 2014 upward, that depreciation is there. The system is so much programmed that you don’t need to touch it. At the 31 of this year, by 12 midnight, it does those things by itself, no human intervention. So that one is clear. But because of the exchange rate, you are clearing for N300 before, if you want to clear now, it cannot be N300 again. You are buying a vehicle at the exchange rate of N350 to a dollar and at black market is at N745. So those are the things affecting import of vehicles not Customs, it is just a thing that is happening in the financial sector.

Public enforcement and anti-smuggling

The Command icreased surveillance on declarations made in its area of jurisdiction in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items. This paid off with the Command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of 1.846 billion. These seizures comprise of 763kgs of Colarado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.600 million only as given by the NDLEA, 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5050 pistes), 1,150 bales of second hand clothings, 1,190 Cartons of 20per cartons of possuem bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1200 per carton armcol injection chiproquine phosphate 322.5mg/5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished matchets, 1383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2.666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter ex-premium inverter battery, 1980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1048 cartons of tilde basmatic rice, others include 2594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, and mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types. This seizure record when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a DN of N607.267 million only. This shows an increase of 11seizures and N1.239 billion. The increase in DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, high value of seized items and the Naira-Dollar depreciation which leads to high exchange rate on imported items.

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These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with the provision of sections 46 and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022 2026. The Command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, FOU, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, NAFDAC, DSS, SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made. A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the Command has eight cases pending in court.

Officers involvement in importation of Colorado 

We have 60 suspects and some of these suspects have to do with Colorado and they were not released. It was at the point of examination that we detected and made this arrest, handing over both the suspects and the offending items to NDLEA. Some of them were granted administrative bail here and some are definitely with NDLEA.So I can tell you for free, most of these seizures have no officer involved because it was the same officers that would have been involved that alerted the management of what they found in the container. Some of these containers were misused of the A forces application. When they go for the application and when you get to the containers, you will not find a vehicle, then it has to be reported. Some of them that their cars are coming in from Canada, you find them with  Colorado in their trucks. So I can tell you for free none of our officers involved this kind of malfeasance.

Revenue collection 

The Command collected a total of  N574.290 billion between January to December, 2022. This figure when compared to the N4493.682 billion collected in 2021 indicated an increase of  N80.607 billion. This represents a percentage increase of 16.33 per cent over the previous year’s revenue collection and this feat could be attributed to the constant rejiging of the existing measures geared towards sustaining the Command’s revenue profile as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the SWOT analysis, implementation of the VIN Valuation, automation of the 546 procedure, re-introduction of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology (NIIT) after deployment of a non-intrusive inspection technology equipment to the Command, proper profiling, system audit, proper recheck or examination and detailed but clearly inputed inspection acts, continuous stakeholders’ engagements and collaboration with all sister government. The Command also ensured robust and agencies and maritime associations. utilisation and voluntary compliance to Government’s extant laws by the trading. These led to timely intelligence sharing. 

Trade facilitation/engagement 

The Command intentionally and strategically created more conducive, friendly and calm atmosphere for the trading public in the year under review. There were continuous segmented stakeholder engagements/meetings to address specific issues as they arose as well as robust collaboration with relevant stakeholders and regulatory agencies of Government. The Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which is a structure put in place by the Command for prompt resolution of trade disputes led to reduction in average clearance time of such issue laden imports. This was in line with the provisions of import duty mechanism as outlined in paragraph (H) sub-paragraph (8) of the Import Guidelines, Procedure and Documentation Requirements which allows an importer to take delivery of his cargo in the case of persistent dispute after securing a Bank Bond, covering the total duties and taxes payable on the item being disputed.

Export volume and value 

The Command recorded significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589.696 million (N242.365 billion) as against the $496.075 million  (N141,985 billion) recorded in the year 2021. This represents an improvement on the FOB by 34.4 per cent and this increase is attributed to the high quality and value of the exported commodities.

However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986:8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022. The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current Government Fiscal Policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrests with its concomitant economic challenges.

The commodities exported through the Command include Cocoa Beans, Insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminium ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items. Cocoa beans was the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity. The command looks brighter as the Command in line with the headquarter circular. The future of export in the Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command harmonized SOP for the seamless facilitation of export trade in strict compliance with extant laws and guidelines on export

As a  Command, we  appreciate all stakeholders and sister Government agencies involved in the export chain with special commendation to the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) for their seamless collaboration in facilitating the clearance process of export-related cargo at the Tincan Island Port Command.

2023 projection for the Command

In summary, the prognosis of the Command for 2023 will include improved revenue profile, facilitation of legitimate trade, enhanced capacity and skills of officers and men of the Command. Also conscientious efforts will be made on making the VIN Valuation, the Automated 846 procedure as well as the deployment of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology (NIIT) platform work more effectively. This is in line with the projected digitalisation of all Customs processes and procedures under the Customs modernisation project.