The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has been able to collect total revenue of N3,048,314,862,310.03 between January 2011 and August 2014.
Spokesperson of NCS, Mr Wale Adeniyi who gave the figure at the I-Nigerian Initiative hosted briefing of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) in Abuja said within the first eight months of 2014 alone, over 3,961 seizures were made with majority of them consisting of rice, textile materials, poultry, wine and alcoholic beverages and vehicles.
Adeniyi said in 2011, the Service collected N741.8 billion, in 2012, it was N850.8 billion. In 2013, NCS collected N622.2 billion and by end of August 2014, the Service had raked in N622.2 billion.
He noted that in order to improve efficiency, the NCS has concluded the training of 3,000 of its men with their counterparts from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigeria Police while the Service donated patrol vehicles for a joint patrol with the two other agencies.
According to him, relevant agencies of government are now working together and linking their e-platforms for smooth clearance of goods being imported into the country.
He explained that since the Service took over the management of destination inspection in December last year, an average of 22,500 clearances had been issued per month as against the combined figure of 15,000 done by the three agents used in the past.
Unfortunately, progress was slowed down because a lot of machines and equipments inherited from the agents were broken down while some others were not even installed at all during the seven year contract period.
“When we took over Destination Inspection Services in December 2013, one of the things we told government was that we needed an independent audit to let us establish the state of the health of these machines, not just scanners but everything that was done by Destination Inspection Service Providers because the project was on build, own, use and transfer basis. They were to build all the infrastructure that were needed over the period of seven years (that was the last contract) maintain it, train Customs Officers on how to operate and use these equipment and then transfer it at the expiration of the contract. And so, scanners are just one infinitesimal part of the process.
He however disclosed that the NCS “now have a new scanner policy awaiting government approval that will set the roadmap for how many scanners we need, what we need to maintain them, what we need to train officers who will man these machines and ensure that we get value for money.”
The Spokesperson warned Nigerians to be wary of internet fraudsters who use different fake platforms to dupe innocent job seekers and also advertise to sell customs seized vehicles at ridiculous prices.
The Customs Spokesman equally advised Nigerians against purchasing smuggled cars as men of the service have the backing of law to confiscate such vehicles even after they are licensed and in use for up to two years.
“Once you did not import a car yourself, and paid the duty yourself, we advice that if you are going to buy a car, the wise thing to do is to cross check if the paper being given to you is indeed genuine. This advice presupposes that there are people who go somewhere behind to clone some of these documents and present them as being genuine Customs duty certificates. We believe that if you exercise that caution, if you are patient enough to contact the nearest Customs formation, you are not likely to buy a car with a fake document.
“The law actually allows us to storm anywhere we reasonably suspect smuggling activities is taking place even on the road. We are only looking at the convenience of Nigerians by not putting obstacles to trade or create situations that will lead to break down of law and order,” he disclosed.
He cited a recent instance in Lagos where “our officers raised a car shop in Lagos and confiscated over 30 exotic cars including Bentley 2014, Infinity, Lexus, Rolls Royce and other such names of 2014 and 2015 models including bullet proof ones. We retrieved all these from car marts that we had information about their activities.”
Adeniyi also stated that between 2009 and now, over 5000 new recruitments have been made by the NCS to boost operations in which over 1,000 were information and communication technology specialists.
“Presently, I will put our figure at 21,000. This figure is good enough to give us the regular number of people that we need for patrol activities. Our operation is becoming increasingly ICT driven so we really no longer need as many people as we used to when we run our core operations manually. If you get to the command centre in Abuja, we have about 350 officers who are working in about three shifts to ensure that we are there round the clock and that is all that we need to run par all over the country because all submissions are done electronically and we have a platform to submit them electronically,” he explained further.
Since the present Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) took office, the service has embarked on ICT penetration to improve efficiency and minimise corruption.
“As part of the reforms that Comptroller General of Customs is putting in place is that e-customs is one major achievement of the transformation agenda of the present CGC. When he came in 2009, he discovered that a number of our activities were still manual from one process to the other we started to automate all of them.”
Some of these include submission of manifest, payment, goods declaration and creation of Direct Trader Input Cafes (DTI Cafes) for customers and stakeholders.
Speaking earlier, National Coordinator of I-Nigerian Initiative Ada Stella Apiafi commended the NCS for introducing modern technology in the conduct of their business and urged Nigerians to shun acts that are capable of undermining national integrity.