By Ajibola Abayomi,
May 23, 2018
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service has traded blame over the stumbling block against the implementation of the Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business at the ports .
The order was sued in May 2017 by the Presidency.
While the NPA alleged that most customs officers sent to carry out cargo examination at the port were fraudulent, Customs on the other hand blamed the importers for negligence.
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman who stated this at its 2nd Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting in Lagos queried the presence of Customs officers at port gate.
Usman represented by the Executive Director Marine and Operations, Dr Sekonte Davies urged the customs commands to always send credible officers to carry out examination of containers so as to prevent multiple examinations.
She argued that after cargoes have been dully-examined at the examination bay, customs officers were not expected to lay siege at the port gate as this was against the ease of doing business order.
The NPA boss however insisted that “The presence of customs at the port gate is creating problems, it is against the executive order of the presidency, and the executive order is very clear.
Blaming the Customs further, she said “what we have been able to establish here is that your staff you sent to the examination are fraudulent, they are not doing their job and this is why you have to cross check at the gate again.
” l will suggest to you that you should send credible people to the terminals where examinations are conducted”.
In his reaction, the Assistant Controller of Customs in charge of ease of doing business at Apapa Command, Yahaya Idris blamed the importers and freight forwarders for false declarations, stressing that most of the cargoes coming out of the port are liable, hence some of them are finished products when they are not suppose to be.
He disclosed that the command was currently investigating 10 containers which the importer instead of declaring the cargoes as tires and the duty paid, rather he declared Paperboard in order to pay Five per cent duty.
The customs representative however argued that it was not stipulated in the ease of doing business order that customs should not stay at the port gate.
“In the executive order, there is no where it is stated that customs should not stay at the gate, the only thing that the executive order says in article 23 and 24 was that all examination agencies should fuse together in a place called joint examination area, this is to be spearheaded by customs; SON, NAFDAC, NESREA, Anti-robbery squad and Plant Quarantine”
“Nobody examines containers at the gate, what we do is to cross- check documents, bear it in mind that Apapa customs does not do examination alone, we have some containers called fast track, we have some containers going to the hinterland and ICD in Kaduna and Kano”
“When we talk about the ease of doing business, the first set of problems we are having is the importer, when you make honest declaration, you have no problem. Secondly, the freight forwarders themselves are not also honest”, he alleged