By Odunewu Segun
The Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali has ordered the immediate dismantling of various checkpoints mounted by Customs on highways with immediate effect.
The directive was contained in a circular number 10/2017, dated 25th July 2017 and titled “Removal of all illegal check-points across the country”. The circular, which was in compliance with the directive of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), was signed behalf of the Customs Comptroller-General by Acting Deputy Comptroller-General, Dangaladima, A.A.
Part of the circular, exclusively obtained by National Daily, reads: “The 40 kilometres radius applies only to the borders and consequently there should be no check points within the port areas.
“To further clarify these issues, it should be reminded strongly that only two check points situated at Agbara and Gbaji along Lagos-Badagry-Seme road are statutorily approved. Henceforth, Zonal Coordinators, Comptrollers FOUs, CACs, CIU and other Units will be jointly held responsible for flouting the directive.”
Recall that in a letter dated July 18, 2017, PEBEC had directed the Customs Comptroller-General Hameed Ali to issue directive to his officers “to ensure removal of all illegal check points across Nigeria”.
PEBEC’s directive to Ali, signed by PEBEC Secretary, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, reads in part: “Further to the mandate of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on the scoping of reform initiatives to be implemented under the new reform area, Trading within Nigeria, the Technical Committee of the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), and Key Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), have commenced weekly engagements for the implementation this mandate.
Several Nigerians have complained that Customs officials stop them on the highways and demand Customs clearing documents of their vehicles, irrespective of how long they have acquired such vehicles. Many of the motorists end up being issued with debit notes running into millions of Naira and their failure to pay such bogus sum typically results in their vehicles being impounded.
Importers and agents have also complained that they are stopped on the highways and their cargoes subjected to a fresh round of checks after such consignments have been legitimately cleared from the port. After being subjected to fresh checks on the highways, they are made to part with millions of Naira, depending on the value of their goods, or risk forfeiture.
National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu commended the dismantling of illegal Customs checkpoints in the country.
He said Nigerians should expect more reforms to ease the cost of doing business in Nigeria.