CG’s strike force not indictment on resident officers, Customs insists
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Nigeria Customs Service has said that the decision of the Comptroller General of the service Hameed Ali (rtd.) to deploy the operatives of the strike force to various commands of the service at the various air and seaports is neither an indictment nor a vote of no confidence on resident officers and men of the commands, contrary to insinuations by some stakeholders.
Public Relations officer of the Tin Can Island command of the service, Uche Ejesieme, who spoke in reaction to some wrong notions about the strike force, insists that the roles and functions of the strike force are strictly complementary to those of regular officers and men at the various commands, saying that all the units the service as an agency of the government have one goal, which is not conflicting with other units be it Federal Operations Unit, Enforcement, Valuation or any other unit.
According to him, the primary and statutory functions of the service includes suppression of smuggling, collection of revenue for the government and its other agencies as well as facilitation of trade, arguing that the activities of the strike force have neither negated any of these functions and roles nor proved to be a clog on the government’s policy of enhancing ease of doing business but rather complemented them.
While noting that the strike force is also not an unnecessary duplication but a form of checks and balances, he observed that one of the greatest challenges faced and still being faced by the service has been the low compliance level of many stakeholders, adding that facilitating trade across the global frontiers is hinged on the twin principles of integrity and honesty in stakeholders’ declarations and other documentations.
He also noted that it is the problem of lack of compliance on the part of stakeholders sometimes gives room for multiple alerts, which are really to guide the officers and men of the service, arguing any importer or freight forwarding agent who honestly believes he is compliant and is being delayed should seek redress by reporting any case of multiple alerts to the highest authorities of the service.
The image maker noted that the issue of multiple alerts is not an indictment on the declarant rather to make the officers more conscious. He insisted that the problem of non -compliance by some stakeholders was a major challenge, adding that when declarations made on the manifest do not conform to those on the bill of laden and Pre-Arrival Assessment Report PAAR, questions must be asked, which gives rise to the need for a second eye to double cross check.
Citing the Tin Can Island Command as an example, he said: “We made a revenue of N343billion out of a target of N353billion for the 2018 fiscal year and I am sure that we have surpassed our first quarter 2019 revenue target, so the strike force couldn’t have been an indictment or vote of no confidence on us rather to complement our efforts by blocking any possible revenue leakage that we may not have observed.
“You will also recall that it was partly in the light of this and other exceptional performance that the World Customs Organisation WCO honoured the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Abdullahi Musa with an award of excellence and you know the WCO is not a localised organisation and so the award must be strictly based on merit”.
He also dismissed insinuations that some of the strike force operatives are answerable to the Customs headquarters in Abuja and not the CACs where they are posted, noting that the service is a regimented one with high sense of respect to seniority, insisting that the CACs are the heads of the commands and so all officers whether on special assignment or resident take instructions and report to them.