Education: Aniebonam accuses customs of not living up to expectation

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The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has accused the management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of not doing enough in terms of education and enlightenment.

Aniebonam who stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos recently said that NCS needed to step up in the aspect of education and enlightenment of the public as it was key to the delivery of its mandate.

In his words, “I will expect customs to do more. You see my problem with customs is that they are not doing much in the area of education, enlightenment and so on. They need to step up that aspect. That is very important. For instance, shutting down the borders, even though it is Presidential, it still falls under customs as the lead agency to move out and tell people why government had to shut down the borders.

“Look at what the Nigerian Shippers’ Council just did last week, that is what one expects from customs. Customs is a global body; therefore, we should know what we are doing.”

On the thirty-three (33) items delisted from accessing Foreign Exchange (FOREX) from the official window, Aniebonam who is also the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP) said, “We are all aware that about 33 items were delisted from benefitting from FOREX market, we are also aware that every import into this country must require Form M. We are also aware that these items that were delisted from enjoying FOREX from the official window are not coming under prohibition list.

“If that is the case, it means that Nigerians who have money outside this country can bring in those products under bill for collection or not valid for foreign exchange but for government to go further through CBN to advise commercial banks not to register such Form M whereas we know that every import into this country must come in with registered Form M, so how do we now have this king of investment flow into the country because that would have been an added advantage for this country and for most Nigerians who have money outside to bring in this money into the country and create capacity.

“Even the much talked about rice, again, no document can show anybody that this rice as it were is under prohibition list. It is simple issue of not enjoying FOREX. But can I tell you? Destination Inspection under customs law, check sections 27, 28, 29, what the Act refers to as improper importation. That means documentations are not comprehensive, the customs still go further to undertake customs examination on such items provided they have not fallen under the prohibition list and issue additional demand notice and of course penalty inherent. All that are jam-packed and that has increased the spate of smuggling and today our frontlines have been barricaded.

“You can see the consequences that to me, it appears Nigeria is negating the ECOWAS treaty and international protocols as far as trade are concerned. The government still has what it takes to say no, we cannot continue like this especially when our neighbours conduct themselves in a very stupid manner that seem not to be friendly. More so, government has made effort to advance the cause within ECOWAS treaty to escort transit goods to our borders, they have not done that, they would rather break the cargo down and that is where smuggling keep on raising its ugly head.”

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