CUSTOMS CLOSES TERMINAL IN TINCAN ISLAND PORT

The Comptroller-General of Customs Hamman Bello Ahmed has directed the immediate withdrawal of Customs Officers posted to Terminal ‘A’ of the Tincan Island Port, Lagos. The closure of the Terminal for customs operations was effected because of the inability of its operators – Josephdam Nigeria Limited, to provide adequate office accommodation for Customs operatives deployed at the Terminal. 

The Comptroller General gave the directives at the port after a surprise visit undertaken to assess the performance of the Terminal Concessionaires in developing their areas of operations. he regretted that after several warnings, the defaulting operator has failed to discharge its responsibilities as provided for under the Law. 

He directed that no cargo should be discharged in the Terminal until further notice. 

“We shall not tolerate a situation where the operators are working in a conducive environment, while the officers are kept in a container”, he declared. 

At Terminal ‘B’ and ‘D’, he expressed similar dissatisfaction with the situation, but gave the operators two month grace period to improve the facilities. 

The Terminals are operated by Tincan Island Container Terminal and 5 Star Logistics Limited respectively. 

The Comptroller-General of Customs however commended the operators of Terminal ‘D’, Ports and Cargo Handling Company (SIFAX) for the level of infrastructural development carried out in the concessioned Area.

CUSTOMS-EFCC COLLABORATE TO FIGHT CRIME

As the war against corruption rages on, a call has gone to Security Agencies to partner together to eradicate crime in the country. 

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hamman Bello Ahmed made this call while receiving the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri in his office. While commending the EFCC for working hard to deal with Economic Saboteurs, he stressed the need for the Chairman to partner with the Customs through exchange of intelligence reports that will help in eradicating all forms of criminalities in the maritime sector. 

Alhaji Hamman Bello Ahmed told the visiting EFCC Boss that the new Management of the NCS is committed to the Federal Government vision of making Nigeria a dominant global economic force by the year 2020, through restoring Professionalism and facilitation of trade. He called for the sustainance of Joint Operations in Investigation and Training Operations. 

Earlier, the EFCC Chairman had described the Nigeria Customs Service as a crucial ally in a co-ordinated fight against crime in Nigeria. 

Mrs. Waziri noted that with the level of sophistication in the world of crime, no one Agency can tame it alone. She promised to work closely with the Nigeria Customs Service through exchange of useful intelligence and regular interaction with the Customs High Command. 

16 COMPTROLLERS IN NEW POSTINGS

Sixteen Comptrollers of Customs have been redeployed to new commands in the wake of the restructuring of the Service which started a month ago. 

In the deployment approved in Abuja by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hamman Bello Ahmed, Ten Comptrollers were posted to take charge of commands vacated by officers who were promoted to the Ranks of Assistant Comptroller-General last month. Three of the officers were serving Customs Area Controllers deployed from Zonal offices and Headquarters Units.

In the new posting, Comptroller Ali Wakili of Tin Can Island moves Seme Command as Area Controller, while Comptroller David Agbaje from Customs Headquarters replaces him. Compt. (Mrs) Hanatu Suleiman from Headquarters takes over Apapa Command, while Compt.Mrs Nwokocha moves to Lagos Industrial Command from the Lagos Zonal Office. 

Comptroller Jide Olojo leaves Kano/Jigawa for Ogun Command, while Comptroller Hassan Kila moves to Customs Headquartrers fromIkorodu Lighter Terminal. Commandant of the Customs Training College, Lagos, Gabriel Aliu takes over Post Clearance (East), while Dr Thomas Anpe (mni) resumes as new Commandant. 

The rest are: 
– Comptroller Hamed Dan Alkali-Adamawa to Kano/Jigawa 
– Comptroller Rufia Adamu- Excise to Asycuda 
– Comptroller Ahmed Aliyu- Valuation to Posting-Clearance (West) 
– Comptroller Shehu Musa – Zone “D” to Cross-River/Akwa-Ibom 
– Comptroller Yusuf Moham – Zone “C” to Adamawa/Taraba 
– Comptroller Idris Suleiman – Headquarters-Niger/Kwara 
– Comptroller (Mrs) Ogundipe – Establishment-NCS Board
All the postings take immediate effect.

CLARIFICATIONS ON CHARGES AND LEVIES ON IMPORTED RICE

Sequel to the recent FG’s removal of all Duties and Charges on Imported Rice, the Comptroller-General of Customs has directed all Officer and Men to give full effect to the directive. 

The Comptroller-General’s directive is against the backdrop of persistent complaints from stakeholders on the proper interpretation of the FG’s Fiscal Policy, zero-rating Customs duty on imported rice, as one of the measures to avert food crisis in the country. 

For the avoidance of doubt, with effect from 7th May 2008, Rice Imports into Nigeria is free from all duties and charges, including Customs duty, 7% surcharge, Value-Added Tax, and ETLS Levy. This is in compliance with Section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) C45. Laws of the Federation 2004, which stipulates that duty rate applicable to an imported item for Customs Clearance purpose is that prevailing at the time of Lodgment of the Declaration, irrespective of the dates or Form M, Bill of Lading, Risk Assessment Report (RAR) or Arrival of Vessel. 

However, all importers are advised to follow proper import procedure through Honest Declaration of all rice imports in our Seaports and Land boarders through out the concession period which ends in November 2008. 

Importers experiencing difficulties in Clearance of Rice during this period are advised to contact The Office of the Comptroller -General for immediate assistance.

FGN APPOINTS NEW COMPTROLLER-GENERAL OF CUSTOMS

President Umar Yar-adua has approved the appointment of a new Comptroller-General of Customs. He is Hamman Bello Ahmed, until his appointment, an Assistant Comptroller -General of Customs at the Abuja Headquarters of the Service. 

The appointment of the new Customs helmsman followed the recent disengagement of the service of the former Customs Boss, Jacob Gyang Buba, after a stint of four years in Office. Buba was appointed Comptroller-General in March 2004, to head a new management, put in place by former President Obasanjo to restructure and reform the Customs. In a statement signed last week by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation [SGF], Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Ahmed’s appointment takes effect from Tuesday 27th May 2008. Few hours after the statement was made public, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Shamsudeen Usman proceeded to decorate the new Comptroller-General with the new badges of rank, at a ceremony held at the Ministry’s Conference Room, Glass house, Abuja. 

The Minister congratulated Ahmed on his appointment, and charged him to pursue the on-going Reform Programme with determination to succeed. The attainment of 48-Hour Clearance, he said, must be accorded priority as it represents a major plank of Government’s Policy. The new Comptroller-General promised to restore Professionalism in the Service, while ensuring Customs operatives strict adherence to the Rule of Law. 

Hamman Bello Ahmed was born in Kojoli, Jada Local Government Area of Adamawa State. He had his early education in Jada Primary School from 1956-1963, and his Secondary School in Government Secondary School Ganye, 1965-1969. He proceeded to Government Secondary School, Bauchi in 1970 were he obtained WASC Advance Level. He immediately gained admission into Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to study History and Geography [French sub], and bagged B.A [comb] Hons in 1977. At the completion of his NYSC programme in 1978, the young Ahmed joined the Nigeria Customs Service as Superintendent Customs II now Assistant Superintendent I in 1978. He rose through the ranks, serving in different commands of the Service like Kano, Tin can Island, Valuation Unit and Customs headquarters. 

He was promoted Assistant Comptroller- General of Customs in 2005, and posted to the Inspections and Inspectorate Unit, Customs Headquarters where he remained until 27th May 2008, when he was appointed Comptroller -General. His versatility in the Harmonised System, Customs Tariff and Classification has helped in blocking revenue leakages and recovery of lost revenue. In the process, he has won several National and International commendations and awards from Nigeria Customs Service and the World Customs Organisation. 

Amongst his awards and commendations are-: 
a. Service medal award for recovering of Customs Duty to the tune of about three hundred and sixty four million naira [₦364, 000,000.00] during the Annual Comptroller -General of Customs Conference held in Ibadan, Oyo State in 2002. 

b. A certificate of commendation from the Honourable Minister of Finance. 

c. A commendation letter from Societe Generale Du Surveillance [SGS] and Swede control/intertek [preshipment inspection companies] 

d. A commendation from the World Customs Organisation on the interpretation and application of the Harmonized System [HS] Nomenclature [tariff]. 

e. A commendation letter from Comptroller – General Customs. 

f. Certificate of attendance from the Regional Seminar on the Harmonized and Tariff Management Organized by the Customs Cooperation Councils. 

g. Special commendation as Chairman of Special Ad-hoc Due Process Committee for Apapa Port 2005. 

An unassuming but a thorough professional with a firm grip of the intriques of Customs administration , Hamman Bello Ahmed steps into the CGC’s office with a rich antecedent that fit the proverbial square peg in a square hole. Married with children, the Comptroller-General loves to travel and read.

CUSTOMS SET TO RECRUIT MARINE OFFICERS

In pursuit of its reforms and modernization programme, the Nigeria Customs Service is set to commence recruitment of young qualified professional personnel to man different areas of its operations. 

The recruitment exercise which will be conducted in phases will start with engagement of young Nigerian professionals to man the Marine unit. Those recruited will be charged with the responsibility of re-establishing a strong Customs presence along the Creeks, Inland waterways and the High Sea. Apart from regular marine patrols, they will also be involved in the maintenance of the growing fleet of Customs patrol boats and Seafarers. 
Last year, the unit acquired eight new patrol boats and 2 Seafarers to boost its fleet. 

Also to be recruited in the first phase are Drivers who are expected to provide a tonic for Customs enforcement operations, nationwide. Marine officers and Drivers were major Casualties of the Rationalization exercise carried out last year. Most of the officers affected were laid off on account of low academic qualifications and old age. 

To cope with the expected deluge of applicants, Customs is considering the option of on-line application by prospective candidates. 

The proposal for recruitment of other Graduate professionals is currently awaiting consideration and approval of the Nigeria Customs Service Board. 

CUSTOMS MOVES TO AMEND ENABLING LAW

The Nigeria Customs Service has set in motion the machinery for amending the enabling Laws guiding the operation of the Service. 

Comptroller-General of Customs, Jacob Gyang Buba stated that a review of the Customs and Excise Management Act [CEMA] enacted in 1959, and Amended in 1990, is expedient to reflect current global trends and challenges. 

The Comptroller-General stated this when receiving the report of CEMA Review Committee set up by the Nigeria Customs Service. He expressed satisfaction with the collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Service, which raised the review committee. 

He hinted that the Draft amendments will still be considered by the Nigeria Customs Service Board and the Federal Executive Council, before it will be forwarded to the National Assembly. 

Earlier, Chairman of the Review Committee, and Director of Legal Drafting in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Alhaji Abdullahi Yola, disclosed that most of the provisions of the present Customs Act have gone obsolete, and are not in tune with modern realities. The Committee has therefore recommended an outright expunction of such provisions. 

He disclosed that the main Act is now recommended to be consolidated with others like those on Disposal of Goods, Dumping and Penalties. Alhaji Yola also hinted on the proposal for a separate provision recommending the retention of 10% Revenue Collected by the Service as Cost of Collection, to fund Customs operations. 

NCS COLLABORATES WITH NIGERIA SHIPPERS COUNCIL (NSC)

Collaborative action that will lead to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Shippers Council towards the establishment of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) is on its way. 

Indications to this was given when the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Shippers Council, Capt. Adamu Biu led a high powered delegation of the council to the Customs Headquarters. 

Capt. Biu told the Comptroller-General that all is now set for the take-off of ICDs and Freight Stations in Kano, Funtua, Maiduguri, Jos, Isialangwa and Ibadan. He requested the Cooperation of Customs to facilitate the smooth take-off and operation of the facilities to ease Port congestion. 

Responding, the CGC, Elder Jacob Gyang Buba expressed the readiness of the Service to collaborate with the Council for the smooth take off of the Depots. He however cautioned the Council to sensitize Investors in the Depots on on-going concessioneering efforts in the Ports, and its likely implications on off-dock facilities. 

The two Agencies also deliberated on the alleged arbitrary charges imposed by Shipping Companies on shippers and advocated a joint approach by all Government Agencies in the Maritime Sector to deal with the situation. 

CUSTOMS COMMISSIONS CALABAR CLINIC

Health care for officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service and their Families continues to receive attention as Customs Commissions another clinic in Calabar on Friday 15th February 2008. 

The new clinic in Calabar brings to thirteen (13) the number of clinics strategically located in commands across the country. Customs Medical unit which was established in 2002 solely to care for Officers, Men and their families has grown in size and staff strength rendering services even to neighboring communities of location. 

With staff strength of 69, including Doctors, Pharmacists and other paramedical personnel, the unit actively supported by the Comptroller-General is poised to meet the health needs of service personnel and their families. 

Eight of the clinics located in Karu, Wuse, Kano, Apapa, Ikeja, Seme border and Port Harcourt provide services under The National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS) with number of enrollees standing at over 2000. 

Karu clinic, the headquarters of the unit has established core competence in the areas of community health care, HIV counseling and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) as well as diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. 

The new clinic in Calabar is one of the continuous efforts of the service to meet the health needs of its officers and families. It also demonstrates its social responsibility obligations by extending relatively cheaper medical facilities to members of the community in Cross-River state and environs. 

CUSTOMS TO IMPOUND NON-COMPLIANT AIRCRAFTS

Operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service have been directed to impound any aircraft that brings into the country cargoes whose importation contravenes any provision of Nigeria Laws. 

This directives was given recently in Abuja by the Comptroller General of Customs, Jacob Gyang Buba during an interactive session held with stakeholders to address observed lapses in Customs clearance at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. 

The CGC who recalled with dissactisfaction vices such as submission of improper manifests by airlines, irregular clearing procedures and touting amongst others said that all stakeholders including Customs must wake up to a new dispensation which places high premium on respect for the Laws and strict adherence to import guidelines. 

In his own contribution, the Managing Director of NAHCO Plc, Mr. Bates Suleiman identified the challenges of logistics and negative attitude of all stakeholders as problems militating against smooth operation in the airport. He advocated a seamless automated process between Customs and NAHCO to streamline the clearance process. 

The forum resolved among others that: 

1. All airlines must henceforth submit their manifests to the NCS 48- hours before arrival of their planes. 

2. Manifests Should be proper [“Not consolidated”] with specific description of goods, quantity and weight. 

3. Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria [FAAN] should address decisively the problem of touting in our airports with other stakeholders. 

4. Currency declaration is a law that must be obeyed – The declaration forms will be made adequately available to the airlines through the Customs. 

Stakeholders at the forum include NAHCO, SAHCOL, Representatives of Airlines, Courier Companies and Customs Agents.

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