Customs defends multiple checkpoints as clearing agents threaten Ports shutdown

By Richards Adeniyi

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) recently rose in defence of the multiple checkpoints being mounted by officers of some units close to the border posts and ports.

This followed lamentations by members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) that the checkpoints were affecting trade facilitation.

The agents had threatened to shut down the ports if the Customs Comptroller General, Rtd Col. Hammed Ali failed to address issues of duplication of clearing process by the service.

The agents had identified 10 different units of the Customs which are constituting obstacles to trade in the ports and border stations.

However, Customs spokesman, Mr Joseph Attah in reaction to the concerns raised by the agents justified the action of the Customs units, arguing that the officers have not violated extant laws in their activities.

A ttah said that the checkpoints were part of the anti-smuggling war by three units of the Customs, namely – the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Command resident officers and Headquarters Strike Force.

In a statement shared on social media, the spokesman said the units have acted well and very productive too, adding that it was in line with the federal government’s policy on the ease of doing business. He added that the checkpoints are restricted to 40km radius of the border based on intelligence.

Attah explained, “While NCS welcomes constructive criticism and suggestions that will help the course of making Nigeria a friendly investment destination, blanket accusation and even call for dissolution of otherwise hardworking and highly productive outfit like the Headquarters Strike Force known for making high profile seizures of ammunitions, drugs, rice, vehicles appears suspect.

“As a responsive organisation, NCS will continue to look forward to credible information about any team or officer that may be involved in an unethical practice for appropriate disciplinary action.

“NCS cherishes the existing cordial relationship with importers, agents and other relevant stakeholders whose activities have symbiotic impacts. Accordingly, management is open to any engagement that is aimed at enriching the system while not infracting on extant laws.”