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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Customs Onne, Revenue Target up by 40.3 Percent, as the Command Seizes Contraband worth N3 Billion

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Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Port Harcourt Area 11 Command, Onne Rivers state says it has collected over  N249 Billion naira from January to May 2024 even as on its anti-smuggling war, it has also seized   6 containers of contraband goods worth over N3 billion within the period under review.

Addressing journalists weekend at the Command at Onne, the Customs Area Controller, (CAC) Comptroller. Mohammed Babandede, said, “On assumption of office  I embarked on courtesy visits to Bonded Terminals, various sister Agencies and had series of meetings with stakeholders to seek for their cooperation in terms of collaboration, synergy and information sharing, in line with the Controller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, Policy thrust of consolidation, collaboration and Innovation.”

Speaking further, Babandede disclosed that “The Command was initially given a target of 494 Billion before it was reviewed two weeks ago to 618 Billion naira as revenue target for the year 2024”, adding that “as at the end of May 2024, the Command had generated a total revenue of Two hundred and Forty-Nine Billion, Seven hundred and Fifty-Two Million, Two hundred and Sixty-Eight thousand, Two hundred and Ninety-Eight naira, Twenty-Eight kobo (₦249,752,268,298.28) which translate to 50.4% of the initial target and 40.3% of the current annual target.” He noted that,When compared to the same period last year,” the Command had an increase in revenue generation of One hundred and Fifty-Three billion, Two hundred and Thirteen Million, Seven hundred Thousand, Four hundred and Fifty naira, fifteen Kobo (₦153,213,700,450.15).”

Babandede posited that it was worthy to note that despite the NLC strike, Democracy day and Sallah holidays  “as at this morning the Command has generated Forty-Three billion, Four hundred and Thirty Million, Two hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Two hundred and Ten naira ₦43,430,267,210.00 in the month of June 2024.”

He insisted that the Command looked forward to continuing the rise in revenue generation in the coming months and was optimistic that it would surpass the annual target by the end of the year.

On anti-smuggling activities, Compt. Babandede, said,  “we have on display six (6) seized Containers for violations or contraventions of various customs laws and breach of procedures as provided under the revised import prohibition guidelines of the Common External Tariff 2022-2026, as well as Sections 233, 234, 235, 245, 246 of Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. Also today we have on display a seized Container of used electronics which has turned to e-waste. As you are aware of the environmental effect such waste pose to human lives, for the purpose of disposal we shall be working with the National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the spirit of inter-agency cooperation, synergy and in line with section 119 & 245 of the NCS Act 2023.”

He reiterated,that “The seized items on display are as follows; Four (4)x20 feet containers laden with bales of clothing, lace and fabrics i.e (96 jumbo size in total) with Duty Paid Value of ₦911,520,011.00;  Also seized were 2×40 feet containers laden with 2,625 cartons of cough syrup codeine, 80 cartons of Sildenatil Citrate tablets and 40 cartons of deluxe chilly cutter with Duty Paid Value of ₦2,250,654,000.00 (Based on concealment, false declaration, contravention of revised import prohibition guideline and section 55 Sub-section (1) paragraphs (C) and (I) of NCS Act 2023).”

“The content of these importations contravene the provision of the law which prohibits and restricts certain goods for the protection of the public health and safety. Put together, the total Duty Paid Value of the 7 seized containers stands at ₦3,188,454,452.”

Explaining more on how the seized containers were intercepted, Babandede emphasized, “Let me state here that the above seizures were made purely from intelligence gathered and information sharing with sister agency alongside 100% physical examination. I want to also use this opportunity to thank the NDLEA for their collaboration and inter-agency cooperation as seizures of this magnitude could not have been possible without their involvement.”

However, investigation is still ongoing through our Legal/Intelligent Unit to arrest the culprits and bring them to book as soon as possible.

He said, “the seized containers would be filed for condemnation at the federal High Court, Port Harcourt and shall subsequently be forfeited to the Federal Government. And the Command shall continue to address our core responsibilities by employing various risk management strategies aimed at collecting revenue, identifying vulnerable leakages, gathering intelligence and facilitating trade. We cannot but underscore the necessity and imperativeness of leveraging on synergy, collaboration and intelligence sharing with sister agencies and stakeholders as it enhances our revenue drive and anti-smuggling feats.”

Compt. Babandede reaffirmed, “These deliberate and concerted efforts will guide us in contributing our quota towards realizing remarkable results in line with Vision and Mission of the Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi  MFR and His Management Team.”

The CAC recalled, “I recognize the critical role the media plays, especially in the area of sensitization and public enlightenment, in order to achieve willful compliance to trade laws of all imports and exports through this axis. Please continue to educate the public while the Command will continue to re-invigorate strategies that will enhance our performance.’

He added, “In recent times the Command has observed that a lot of journalists have been asking questions related to Bonded Terminals and a large number of our journalist stakeholders are misinformed about the procedures hence the view that Containers moved to the bonded terminals are at the discretion of the Command. This view is erroneous, hence the need to set the record straight as well as educate our friends the press, stakeholders and the public on Bonded Terminal procedures.”

“It is important to note that one of the core functions of Customs is trade facilitation which entails a streamlined and simplified technical and legal procedure in clearing items entering or leaving Nigeria. These Procedures are guides in which all Customs Officers must adhere to. The final destination for clearing of any consignment into the Country is at the owner’s or importer’s discretion. This cannot be altered by any customs officer including the Area Controller. Firstly the importer has to stipulate the Bonded Terminal or port that will be the final destination right at the country of exportation which is always indicated on the Bill of Laden and is transmitted via the shipping companies to the sea port where the vessel will berth. This negates the erroneous belief that Onne officers connive with operators of Bonded Terminals to transfer containers to Bonded Terminals.

Secondly part of the procedure stipulates that these items moving to Bonded Terminals should be on Transire/Bond which is mandatory. The third procedure is escort from Onne Port to the bonded terminal. These procedures are strictly adhered to by the Onne Customs Command. Any infraction discovered in the course of physical examination will translate to Demand Notice in order to recover the shortfall in revenue paid or detention in our Government warehouse which will be converted to Seizure.”

The Customs boss however, warned those involved in unwholesome trade through Bonded Terminals among others to steer clear of Onne as according to him, “there is no hiding place for economic saboteurs in the Command promising “we will not only fish them out, but shall get them arrested with their goods forfeited to the Federal Government.”

By Bon Peters,

Port Harcourt, Rivers State

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