Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has warned officers and clearing agents to shun corruption or risk the consequence of involvement in such practices.
Speaking in Lagos on Monday during his maiden working visit to the Apapa area command, Ali said his mandate as head of NCS was to reform and restructure the service.
He promised to ensure that all acts of cutting corners by some importers and agents were stopped, warning that anybody culpable risks being jailed.
“The days of corruption are gone. Anybody caught shall not be left to go scot-free,” he said.
“I am a stickler for the enforcement of the law. There is need for law and order, and it is important to follow the rules as they are so that we all do not have problems.”
He said it was possible for customs to clear goods from the port within 48 hours if there were no falsification of declaration of goods.
He said non-compliance with the rules of operation had been a challenge in the service.
Ali also urged the agents to ensure that they get properly trained by way of capacity building, to help them function adequately as demanded by new technologies.
He said he had not come to make things difficult for operators but to ensure orderliness and conformity to the law to promote trade.
Stakeholders raised issues on challenges they were facing in carrying out their operations.
Kayode Farinto, the public relations officer of the Association of Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), raised concerns over obsolete and faulty scanners at the ports.
He also complained about incessant alerts coming from multiple sources, as well as the challenge of opening Form M due to the forex restriction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“We want the comptroller-general to look into the problem of obsolete scanners being used at the port,” he said.
“It is also a problem now to raise Form M due to the CBN restriction on FOREX. All these cause delays in clearing cargo, so cargoes are trapped in the port and we all know what that means.”
He urged the customs boss to make trade facilitation a cardinal point of his administration.