…Says it does incalculable damage to Customs image
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has expressed its displeasure on the rising cases of Customs officers’ waylaying released containers on the highways, particularly by officers of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), stressing that the gesture was not in the best interest of public image of the Customs Service.
The ANLCA National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu made the observation, when he visited the FOU Zone A Command Head, Alhaji Abubakar Usman Turaki highlighting that the statutory functions of the Service should not be limited to policy enforcement, but extended also to policy implementation.
“Stopping cargo in transit on the highway does incalculable damage to the image of Customs, as well as that of the agents”, Shittu indicated, advising that the best bet would be to track or trail such consignments to its destination, and act there from.
He tasked the FOU command to work towards achieving a more mutually beneficial partnership with Customs brokers and freight forwarders, highlighting that as critical stakeholders in the cargo clearance sub-sector of the economy, the two sides must understand that building bridges was “sine qua non”, to growing the industry.
The National President of ANLCA regretted comments emanating from Customs command, consigning PAAR as an advisory document, rather than a final document for cargo clearance, arguing that such remarks was capable of reducing and devaluing the laudable efforts and vision of the Customs management, in the development of the PAAR platform.
Stating that he understood that the twin issues of dispute between Customs and the Business class may always revolves around valuation and classification of imports, the ANLCA arrow-head counselled the Service to continue to work towards perfecting the PAAR, even as he assured on agents and importers willingness for increased compliance.
Responding, the Customs Area Controller, Abubakar Usman Turaki expressed his willingness to ensure peace and fairness as he nurtures collaboration between officers and men of the command and ANLCA, especially in their support for PAAR, since its inception.
He however explained that the FOU only complement the effort of officers in the seaports, airports and border stations across the nation, in an aim of curbing smuggling; adding that his men in most cases, strike swooped, on the basis of overwhelming intelligence reports.
He also sought further cooperation of the agents in the fight against smugglers, saying “we have challenges in combating smugglers in the onerous task of checkmating dare-devil, armed smugglers”, adding that in addition to the support from Customs management, his officers equally need the encouragement of the public in evolving new tactics to confront the smugglers; adding that his doors were opened, 24/7 in this regards.
Meanwhile, the ANLCA has announced that the date for the commissioning of its permanent National Secretariat as this Friday.