The Nigeria Customs Service has said it would not cancel its policy of double checking of containers even after they have been duly inspected and released at the various exit gates of the nation’s seaport, saying that that might compromise both revenue of the Federal Government and internal security of the country.

Customs spoke on the heels of allegations by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, who alleged that some stakeholders including government agencies are not adhering strictly to the Ease of Doing Business Regulation as directed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Customs Area Controller in charge of Apapa Area 1 Command, Comptroller Musa Jibrin, who spoke in Lagos, while fielding questions from members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN during a recent round table chat, insisted that it was statutory for the service to cross check already released containers at the exit gates, as provided in the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA.

According to the comptroller, who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller in charge of Customs Procession Centre CPC, Muktar Yahaya, procedurally, it takes a minimum of two days between the time of examination of a container and the actual time of exit of the same container out of the port gates, during which anything could have happened.

Jibrin disclosed that many importers and their agents have failed to be honest and transparent in their declaration, as many of them would want to shortchange the system, a development that makes it incumbent on the service to be extra-vigilant, especially within the provisions of the law to protect revenue and ensure national security.

He also informed the NPA-boss that in as much as the service does not intend cast aspersions on its officers and men, it does not want to leave anything to chance, since no one, especially in the current dispensation can be trusted 100 per cent as saints.

“Procedurally, the CEMA requires that the seal of the container is double checked at the point of final exit from the Customs port by officers designated to do that, who were not among the team that inspected the container in question at the terminal and we must abide by the laws at all times, as failure to do that may bring about regrettable consequences”, the CAC also said.

The MD of NPA had while reacting to complaints by some importers and freight forwarders at a stakeholders’ forum held in Apapa penultimate week, wondered why some government agencies, especially Customs are not complying strictly with government’s order on ease of doing business at the ports by removing certain encumbrances at the exit gates.

Meanwhile, during a courtesy visit last week by the leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA to the MD, she had also voiced out her frustrations in making stakeholders and government agencies, especially Customs to comply with the order to n avail.

The MD, who threatened to report the affected government agencies to the office of the Vice President, said that the order on the ease of doing business was clear and that she had written the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali severally on the issue without achieving the desired results.

She however disclosed that the authority was concluding plans to write all the stakeholders operating in the maritime industry on ne need to fully comply with the ease of doing business order by removing all encumbrances in the process of clearing cargo at the seaports.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the association, Mr. Kayode Farinto, who led the ANLCA team, said the visit was designed to inform the MD of the multiplicity of challenges faced by agents and importers in the course of transacting businesses at the ports, one of which is illegal presence of security agencies at the port, especially National Plant Quarantine Services NPQS.

Other challenges include non-adherence to the ease of doing business order, which gave rise to his call for the suspension of the order as well as incessant detention of containers on port roads by officers and men of the Port Police Marine Command, among several others.