By Stephen Ubnna
More facts have emerged why Proprietors of Excise Factories, in Ogun, home state of Former President Olusegun Obasanjo are paying the excise duty slammed on them by Ogun II, Customs Command, with Headquarters at Abeokuta, under the close watch of Ahmad Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, DC.
A senior officer who spoke to The value News on condition of anonymity disclosed that the Customs Acting Comptroller approves the monthly Excise duties for the Excise factories based on the recommendations of the Team attached to the factories who had read their meter to know the volume of their daily production and vetted by another monitoring Team that were said to have been deployed to various factories in the state to oversee what is happening at the Excise factories to ensure that the right is done.
Acting Comptroller Shuaibu, may have read the riot act to the field officers to put integrity first as their watch word in dealing with the staff of the factories as he will not hesitate to apply the sledge hammer on any officer found wanting .
He may have put a close tab on the officers attached to the excise factories because of the mandate given to him by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller, Nigerian Customs Service, to go to Ogun I Command and ensure that the Federal government excise duties that are supposed to be paid by the excise factories are fully paid without compromise.
The Customs Acting Comptroller, may have known that his integrity would be at stake if he fails to deliver on his mandate by improving on the monthly revenue generation of the Command that had been known over the years for not meeting its revenue target due to complaint of no production because of the down –turn in the economy which had affected their raw materials import.
Being a man of integrity who do not want his name to be rubbished by any officer, he was said to have blocked all areas of revenue Leakage that were cashed in by officials of the some of the excise factories in the past to short change the government in their excise duty payments by refusing to have any direct contact with any of the Company proprietors except on official matters that requires his immediate attention or that could be referred to the Customs Comptroller General for necessary action.
The job of the OguNII, Area Controller and the field officers deployed to the Excise factories across the state may have been made a lot easier by President Muhammadu Buhari with the implementation of the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures made up of the Supplementary Protection Measure , SPM, and the approval for the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET, 2022-2026, and excise duties on Non-Alcoholic beverages , Alcoholic beverages, Cigarettes and Tobacco products and Telecommunication services.
Unlike in the past where the Alcoholic beverage Companies would want to send sample of their products to the Command’s office for sighting and assessment, Acting Compt. Shuaibu, according to an informed sources, do not collect such product samples from the Companies to avoid using it to penetrate his officers.
Between Monday and Friday, Acting Comptroller Shuaibu, who lives by example, reports at the office by 7.30 Am, to get briefs from the various Teams attached to the Excise Factories and sign the necessary documents that requires his attention.An insider confirmed that between the 7. 30 A , that he reports to the office and when he closes at about 5.00Pm, he signs scores of documents , which are sent back to the factories to facilitate their production and pay their duty.
Recall due to the lack of activities in the Command in the past, some of the officers were not coming to the office. A one-time Area Controller of the Command was said to have virtually left the running of the office to his Lieutenants as he comes to the office once or twice in a week. More so, he did not have the patience to stay in the office to attend to official matters.
It was not surprising why Documents were said to be piling up on his table that most of Proprietors of the Excise Factories cashed had cried out and subsequently devised a way to shortchange the government with the collaboration of the officers. This is evident going by the alleged discoveries of the Acting Comptroller’s Shuaibu’s men on the field which was very damning.
Investigations by The on line Magazine shows that of the 53 excise factories scattered all over Ogun state there were several cases of underpayment of monthly excise duties. The Acting Comptroller’s Shuau’s men on the field were said have discovered monumental fraud in October, 2022,but refused to be compromised by filing their report to the Customs boss on the exact excise duty that ought ought to be paid by the Company , which was said to have been approved approved by.
There was an instance of a Company that was said to have been paying N11 million as monthly excise duty over the years but it was jerked up to N120 million in that month of October 2022 and the Company officials, were said to be happy to pay it without grudges
.There was also a case of another Company that was said to have paid N12 million as monthly excise duty but after reading the meter of his machines used for production, an additional N18 million was given to the Company to pay. There are several other excise factories with such issues that were said to have been addressed by Acting Comptroller Shuaibu led Ogun II.
Informeed sources told the Magazine that there was a case of a Chinese brewing Company that had protested but was told to go and pay the new duty or the Command would impose the necessary sanctions on the Company based on the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, 2204.
A Source disclosed that Acting Comptroller Shuaibu, has a way of dealing with the recalcitrant Companies and traders who fail to pay their excise duties as at when duty. The Customs Area Controller who is not ready to take any excuse for answer , according to the source would first ‘’send a verbal warning to the Company to pay up their outstanding bill, which will be quickly followed by a reminder Letter before invoking the CEMA, sanctions on the Company.
There is no gain saying the fact that the no-compromise attitude of Acting Comptroller Shuaibu that the right thing must be done may have informed why the excise factories are ready to pay their excise duties slammed on them without complaint because they knew that they have been cheating the government over the years.
Take for instance in the month of January , while some Excise Commands, are complaining of low duty generation, Ogun II, was said to have already generated as at Wednesday, January 25, 2023, about N2 billion. A brewing Company was said to have paid N1.2 billion excise duty.
While the Ogun II, had beamed their searchlight on the big brewing Companies in the state to ensure that they pay their appropriate excise monthly duties, the small gin Companies scattered all over the south west state may be a bit luckier.
This is because the pressure on them and the excise duty slammed on them may not as much as those of the Multinational brewing Companies, because of the too many factors that were said to have been taken into consideration in the determination of their duty like the high cost of production due to the rising diesel cost, payment of staff and other ancillaries.
The Ogun II, Customs Comptroller and his men may have been lenient on the small gin Companies, an insisder said to avoid driving them out of business which might as well affect the Command’s monthly revenue generation and other Financial demands of the state, which sources had said were not eating deep into their finances.
Some of the small alcoholic companies , which are scattered all over the Obasanjo home state had relocated from Lagos , the nation’s Commercial nerve centre to the state because of the continued Tax harassment by the Lagos state government and therefore were willing to pay the Federal government excise duty to remain in business and still maintain staff.
It was gathered that the small gin Companies pay their excise duties as at when do he Ogun II Command Authorities may have been lenient with the small Companies over giving them high excise duties to pay because of the high cost of production and the hundreds of people engaged in their Companies to sustain their production level.
.There are indications that as at January 24, 2023, the Command, which had never been known to generating impressive revenue for the government within the first month of the year, was said to have generated about N2 billion as at January 25, 2023. This is a Commendable feat that should be emulated by other excise Commands.
One major problem of the Ogun II, was that seized and condemned vehicles littered the premises of the Area Controller’s office awaiting to be removed. A Visitor to the Command would be shocked that after Ali, the Customs Comptroller General , over seven years in office, he nothing has been done to remove the old vehicles that had turned to an eye saw as it has turned to breeding ground for mosquitoes and home for rabbit- looking rats.
t Many see the Ogun II, Command, premises as another Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, premises, Mechanical workshop, where hundreds of such condemned vehicle ares parked and covered by weeds.