11 February 2016, Lagos – The Apapa Customs Command has said that all government agencies involved in the examination of cargo at the Apapa Port must endorse the examination forms at the base.
The Customs Area Controller of the command, Mr. Willy Egbudin, gave the indication at an interactive session with stakeholders at the command recently, a statement by the Association of Nigeria Licensed Custom Agent said.
He said, “Henceforth, all government agencies involved in the examination process must endorse the examination form at the base as witnesses to it.
“Any officer who deliberately creates avenue to extort agents should be brought to my notice for appropriate sanction.”
Stakeholders comprising licensed customs agents, importers and representatives of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council had earlier lamented the endorsement of examination forms by customs officers not privy to the examination in their offices. They alleged the process created room for extortion.
The Area Project Manager, Deputy Controller Yusuf, gave reasons for the complaints against the Pre Arrival Assessment Report.
He said issues arose when information on the documents presented for the issuance of PAAR were totally inconsistent when compared with contents of the container on physical examination.
He advised agents to study all documents thoroughly before data capturing, to avoid delays, queries and issuance of Demand Notice usually arising from the low value and wrong classifications.
On the inefficient scanners and scanning processes, officers in charge explained technicalities bordering on the mode of packaging in containers and repositioning for physical examination, in order to confirm images thrown up by the result of scanning machines.
Importers and agents were advised not to leave spaces when loading items into a container, as such spaces could be misread by the scanners.
They were also urged to arrange items according to sizes inside the containers, such that when scanned, it would be able to reveal exactly what was therein.
Egbudin said, “Importers must make an honest declaration of the contents of their containers and agents should stop assisting importers to defraud the FGN. Those complaining should note that whoever comes to equity must come with clean hands.”
Stakeholders also accused the NSC of not doing its job as port system regulator, especially with regard to the attitudes of shipping companies and terminal operators. They alleged that shipping companies often did not refund containers deposit on time.
It was decided that any shipping company that refused to refund container deposit within seven days should be reported to the NSC for prompt action.