By Stpephen Ubanna
For much of 2022 and now , ComptrollerBabatunde Olomu, Area Controller, Edo/ Delta Command and his Management Team have been working round the clock to improve on the Command’s operations and monthly revenue generations which was said to have been at a verry low level over the years.
The situation was so worrisome that Compt. Olomu described as a workaholic by Colleagues at the Customs Headquarters was forced to put on his thinking cap and initiated daring moves which was said to have helped in blocking all the areas of leakage within the jurisdictions of the Command. The initiated moves were said to have also helped the Command in ‘’the zero compromise for duty evasion, and enhanced due intelligence at this period of low volume of trade influx into the Delta port.
As a prelude to enhancing the Command monthly revenue generations, he was said to have taken the battle to the International Oil Companies, IOC, comprising of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Nigerian AGip Oil Company, NAOC, and the Local Oil Companies , LOC, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptised Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry , PIB, in August, 2020, by the National Assembly that was said to have been signed into Law by Former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Customs Comptroller may have taken the war to the Companies believed ‘’to have never abidded by the rules and regulations binding Oil lifting in the nation’s oil industry. Compt. Olomu could muster the courage to take the battle to the IOC, LOCs and NNPCL, which over the years had ‘’denied officers and men of the Command from participating in the Fiscalisation and defiscalisation processes’’ because he has the backing of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and the immediate past Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS . Let us hope that he will do more to get all the IOC, LOCs and NNPCL, to follow the rules and regulations binding the industry with the strong backing from Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, the current Customs Comptroller General.
Recall that the Edo/Delta Command officers who were said to have been deployed to Escravos and Forcados, and other oil terminals in Delta state over the years did not know the volume and quantities of Crude oil being lifted through the export terminals, let alone knowing what ought to be remitted into the Customs coffers monthly.
Though past Area Controllers of the Command may not have found it easy to employ the full weight of the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 200, Compt. Olomu was not ready to toe the same line action but determined to implement the relevant portions of the CEMA, aimed at blocking all the areas of revenue Leakage under the jurisdictions of the Command to improve on its monthly revenue generations. He got it right.
As a prelude to maintaining a robust collaboration with the IOC, the EDO/Delta customs Area Controller, was said to have visited one of the Command’s biggest offshore Crude oil terminal, Escravos , operated and managed by Chvron. He has confirmed that the visits to the offshore terminal was geared ‘’towards a robust collaboration between the service and the IOC, ‘’to aid in a seamless process of carrying out his statutory functions.
It was not surprising why the Free On Board, FOB, Value of the Crude oil cargoes values that was said to have passed the oil terminals in the Niger Delta state to the International Oil Market, with the full participation of the officers and men of the Command has continued to be on the increase which was said to have robbed off on the revenue generation of the Command.
A senior Customs officer who spoke to the Value News Online on condition of anonymity confirmed that since the Edo/Delta Command officers could easily obtain the figures of oil lifting and exportation passing through the terminals by participating in the Fiscalisation and defiscalisation process, the Command could heave a sigh of relief over the monthly increase in its revenue generations over the last eight months.
This is because all ‘’ the loopholes exploited by the terminal operators, IOC and the LOC, including the NNPCL, officials to perpetuate shay deals have been successfully blocked.
Indeed, Compt. Olumu and his Team of dedicated senior officers were said to have never relented since the officers and men of the. The Customs Comptroller and his Management team may not have been dampened by’’ the low draft at the Delta port and the near total collapse of the Warri channel, low trade activities at the port, swings in transaction rate and the nation’s unstable economic environment to go ahead with every of their move to improve on the Command’s monthly revenue generations.
. Given the Command’s achievements over the last eight months, he had said that’’ it is at its best in revenue generations and performing its other statutory functions of suppression of smuggling, trade facilitation and implementation of government policies at the port’’.
The Command’s revenue generations between the month of January, 2023 and August, 2023, an interval of eight months speaks volume . The Edo/Delta Command Customs helmsman had confirmed that within the eight months of its operations in 2023, it had generated N30,638,073,795.75, which was higher than the amount generated within the same period in 2022. The Command was said to have generated N28,275,691,416.75 between January and August 2022.
An elated Compt. Olomu had said that the Command could do all that much within the eight months of 2023, because of ‘’the synergy with the relevant stakeholders which include but not limited to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Delta port Manager, Nigeria Air Force, NAF, Commander, at the port, Navy Commander, Department of State Service, DSS, or Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, at the port Command , among other security agencies Chiefs at the port.
Enough of the Command’s activities at the Delta port and Oil terminals, we turn to another major source of revenue earnings: Excise. Giving an insider information he had said that Excise duty has formed ‘’a steady and another reliable source of the Command’s revenue monthly revenue collections’’. Comptroller Olomu, who could not hide his feelings had alluded to the fact that the Edo/Delta Command main areas of excise collections like Guinea Nigeria plc, Coca-Cola and 7up Bottling companies, alone had accounted for a total of sum of N4,507,700,028.00 of the over N30 billion that was collected by the Area Command between January and August 2023.
In the area of export, the Command appears to have given a good account of itself also. It was said to have participated in the Fiscalisation an defiscalisation of theexport of 156,836,2barrels of Crude oil through the three major oil platforms in the state in the first eight months of 2023. This is in addition to the export of 1,672988, Automated Gas Oil, popular, diesel and 268,319,522 metric tonnes of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG.
The online Magazine findings shows that within the same period in 2022, the export Crude export that was said to have passed through the oil terminals was 102,924,272 barrels, and 206,770,662 metric tons of LPG. Describing it as ‘’an emerging area of strength in the Command’s new sources of revenue generations’’ may have informed why the Customs Comptroller has solicited ‘’the support of the Delta state government towards re-sustaining this very vital sector’’.
In a related development, the Command may not have been fully involved in anti-smuggling operations because of the activities of the Federation Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C, and Joint Border Patrol, officers who parades Edo and Delta, under the jurisdictions of the Command to checkmate activities of smugglers, both on land and sea, but it was said to have ensured ‘’ the security of Contraband seizures by the interventionist unit and detentions of suspects linked to the seized goods’’.
The FOU, Zone C, and Joint Border Patrol team seized Contrabands were confirmed to have contravened the Federal Government Fiscal Policy’’, and are currently being domiciled in the Edo/Delta Command’s ultra-modern Government Warehouse in Benin station Aduwawa, Edo state.
It was gathered that the domiciled Contraband seizures a by the two interventionists unit with the first eight months of 2023, domiciled in Aduwawa station, ulra-modern, Government warehouse, Benin , include bales of used clothes, Foreign Par boiled rice, Processed foreign Vegeatable oil, Used fridges, Red Wines tomato paste and sacks of cannabis. Valuation officers was put the total value of the seized Contraband goods at about N331,181,600.00.