Lack of scanners at ports makes smuggling hard to prevent, says Hameed Ali

Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), says the unavailability of scanners at the ports makes it difficult to monitor all the goods imported into the country.

In recent times, there has been a surge in the activities of smugglers who import expired products and illegal arms into the country.

Appearing before a house of representatives committee on Monday, Ali said once the scanners are available, smuggling will be reduced to the “barest minimum”.

The comptroller-general was responding to a question on how the activities of smugglers impact the country.


“Looking at the figures — 2018, 2019, 2020 — one gets this wow performance of the service under your leadership. One is a little worried because of the activities of smugglers which of course impacts negatively on your revenue potential. Given your knowledge of what the activities of smugglers are, what do you think we can do to curb the activities of smuggling? Saidu Abdullahi, a member of the committee, asked.

In response, Ali said: “We are working consistently to see what we can deploy in terms of applications that will mitigate some of these things.

“To be frank, apart from vehicle smuggling, most of the smuggling —evasion of duties — happens at the port because we do not have scanners and which means we cannot inspect every container and know the content.


“With due respect to stakeholders, most of our traders in conjunction with declaring agents always try to devalue the goods that are imported and therefore reducing the percentage.

“But if we have scanners — I thank God very soon we will be deploying three major scanners at the major ports — that will help us tremendously to be able to reduce to the barest minimum the extent of smuggling because when you have a company bringing 50 containers, you hardly can inspect all those and also, we are mindful of the ease of doing business.

“Mr chairman, I assure you that now that the scanners are almost at our shores, once we deploy them I believe that we will realise the increment in terms of revenue.”

Ali said the customs is working to ensure that it automates its revenue generation system, adding that “we are trying to deploy as much technology as possible”.

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