Stakeholders accuse Customs of massive extortion at Lagos ports

•As ANLCA alleges non-implementation of agreement


The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has been accused of using its over 26 units at the port to extort money from port users, saying the practise is worse at the Lagos ports.


This came as the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has said that the service has refused to implement a collaboration agreement they reached to checkmate the excesses of importers and Customs officers in the ports. According to the stakeholders, to clear a container in Lagos and other Nigerian seaports, you have to be ready and prepared, because you will go through all the over 26 Customs units where you must part with money.


They listed the units as; Form M, PAAR, Unblocking, Abandoned, Examination/ Report, DC Report, Releasing, DC Stamping, Gate and Exiting. Others are Valuation, CPC Q and A ( Query and Amendment), APM, DC Administration , DC Compliance, CAC monitoring, CIU, Enforcement, Customs Police, OC Gate, Gate Officers and after clearance comes PCA.


Then on the roads, four other Customs Units, namely FOU, Strike Force, Headquarters Squad and Customs Police are all there to extort traders either on their way to their warehouses or to the importer’s destination. Corroborating the allegations, an Executive member of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA, names withheld) said all the checkpoints existed and that the Customs have turned them to extortion points from both compliant and noncompliant importers.


“The checkpoints are not new, they are only multiplying by the day. For you to clear your goods out of the ports whethet you are compliant or not, you must part with money. “If your container is stopped by any of the units, for compliant ones, the Customs starts bargaining with you from N15,000 – N20,000 for 20ft container and N20,000 to N25,000 for 40ft containers.


Then for the non-compliant, that is if you have some infractions, the haggling starts from N50,000 to N100,000 for 20ft and 40ft respectively.”


On why compliant importers or their agents should pay such amount after paying the required duty, he said. ” if you refused to part with money on the ground that you are compliant, the officer will decide to take you to Federal Operations Unit ( FOU) where you will pass through another list of 30 units been extorted.


All these are to intimidate you, so that next time you will never want to go to their office again. And of course all these delays tells on your pocket through various demurrage. Then why won’t things cost in our markets?


Meanwhile, ANLCA says it is trying to resuscitate the collaboration agreement entered into years ago by the association and the Customs for a seamless and friction free trade facilitation.


Speaking with Sunday Telegraph, the National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Abdulazeez Mukaila said the present ANLCA leadership during its recent visit to the Comptroller General of the Customs    reminded him of the collaboration agreement which has not been implemented.


Mr Mukaila said: “During the tenure of Prince Olayinwola Shittu, ANLCA entered into an agreement with the Customs high Command on how to resolve issues bordering on trade facilitation, but it seems the agreement was not brought to the notice of the current CGC.


So when we visited him few months ago, we raised the issue of the pending collaboration and the CGC said we should write again, we have written and even nominated members, but as usual, we have not heard anything again from the Customs.” Mukaila said that if the collaboration is implemented, most of the infractions and delays will be addressed between the Customs, Importers and their Agents.


“But again it seems some officers are sitting on the letter, because of their interest and I suspect, just like the previous ones, it may not see the light of the day.” He further said that Customs is creating the wrong impression that all importers and their agents are non compliant, but when ANLCA enters into an agreement with them to collaborate to exposed the non -compliant ones, the Customs is footdragging on implementation.


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