30 December 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The heads of two key federal agencies who are also close allies of President Muhammadu Buhari are at loggerhead over the collection of $25, 000 ship levy from vessels that berth at the nation’s ports.
The disagreement by the two officials appears to confirm insinuations of division among some leading lights of the Buhari administration.
The turf war stems from a letter written by the Director-General of the Department of Security Service, DSS, Lawal Daura to President Buhari on September 8.
In the letter, the security chief accused the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) of introducing $25,000 as new Temporary Import Permit (TIP) levy on each vessel that berths to discharge petroleum products in Nigeria.
Daura is a kinsman of the President while the Director-General of NCS, Hameed Ali, a retired colonel was Buhari’s Chief of staff before he won election as Nigeria’s president.
Daura reported to the President that the new levy is illegal as it was not provided for on the PPRA template, neither is it receipted, adding that it could increase the cost of petrol by 56 kobo per litre.
In international trade, TIP is a Customs’ procedure under which certain goods can be brought into a country without payment of duties or taxes and without import prohibition and restriction. But before it is issued, those knowledgeable about NCS operations regarding the issuance said an applicant must post a bond to cover the import duty and other charges inclusive of the 25 percent penalty in case of violation of the terms.
In Daura’s memo to the President, he further reported that the alleged introduction of $25,000 TIP levy followed the detention of a vessel, MT Histria Ivory at Apapa by NCS operatives.
He reported to the President that the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, made the complaint that formed the basis of his memo.
A week after receiving the memo, Buhari forwarded it to Ali, demanding a “summary report of your considered view”.
In his response, Ali told the President that the DSS under Daura appeared to be more interested in a smear campaign and personal vendetta than in thorough investigation and anti-corruption efforts of the administration.
He explained that the said vessel, MT Histria Ivory, was truly detained but that was after it was sighted discharging cargo at the Apapa Jetty.
He said the detention was to ascertain whether it had TIP or was liable for payment of duty.
While the investigation was ongoing, before Daura’s memo to the President, MOMAN alleged an imposition of $25,000 TIP levy per vessel by the NCS via a letter copied to the Minister of state for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; the DSS and the Customs chief.
MOMAN wrote the complaint letter one week before Daura sent the memo to the president.