My Scorecard: Adeniyi, CG, Customs Gives 2024 First Quarter Report

By Stephen Ubanna

In spite of the negative impacts of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Olayemi Michael Cardoso, persistent review of the country’s foreign exchange Market rate that had been used  by  Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, led Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, for calculation of import and export duties at the nation’s sea ports and Land border areas,  the Customs Comptroller had said  that  there was no cause for alarm over the collection the Federal government’s 2024 revenue target of N5.7 trn, which translates  to a  monthly target of N423 billion.

Cardoso” Governor, CBN

 The Customs Comptroller General   who spoke his mind on Tuesday, April, 1, 2024, at  a Press Conference in Abuja , the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, had alluded to the fact that the unification of the  country’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market , AFEM and Parallel, popular,  Black Market Exchange rates by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state  had exposed the naira to fluctuations against the North American country of the  United States , US , dollar, which is the  currency used in international transactions for payment  and other  world major  currencies like the EURO and the British pounds sterling.

Between January and March, 2024, the Nigerian apex Bank, according to the Customs boss had changed the country’s foreign exchange rate   used for calculating import duties and   clearing of cargoes, 28 times and which the Customs Authorities may not have found funny enough to do their job.

The situation was so worrisome that  importers with their clearing agents and the Organized private Sector, OPS, had cried out that  the frequent fluctuations  in the country’s forex market,  master-minded by the CBN,  and which had led to the fall of the local unit at the National Foreign Exchange , NAFEX, window , would likely lead to business shutdowns , job losses and hike  in the prices of commodities and inflation due to the high of cost of clearing  imported goods  at the ports and land border points.  Already, this s currently the situation in the country: escalating cost of imported and local food items.The OPS particular, were emphatic that the continued forex review by FMDQ Securities Exchange methodology used to set the country’s exchange rate which was a tacit way of devaluation of the naira in the country’s Foreign Exchange Market    will continue to have wider implications for the economy.

The current Customs Comptroller General, who was said to have worked under different former Customs Comptroller Generals in the past may have under -studied their management style that he has no excuse to give over the fluctuations in the country’s Forex Market not deliver on the service revenue mandate.

Recall that he had told the newly appointed members of the Management team late last year that given that ‘’Nigeria is at a point of economic depression’’ had made it imperative for the Customs under his Leadership to step up its operational mandate’’ to facilitate Legitimate trade, suppress smuggling and ensure Ease of Doing Business at the nation’s ports and Land border Areas   to boost revenue growth in order to keep the economy afloat’’.

He was said to have made members of the Customs Management team, both old and new, that the expectation of the Tinubu’s government   and indeed Nigerians are very high on the service now that the country is experiencing economic depression .‘’We must be prepared to meet these revenue expectations and the statutory mandate of the service as contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act that had been signed into Law by former President Muhammadu Buhari before he left office on May 29, 2023 he had remarked.      

He was said to have also read the riot Act to the Area Controllers at the nation’ seaports and Land border Areas to block all areas of revenue leakage to ensure that the service meet its monthly revenue targets and even supass it.

Compt. Nnadi : Area Controller, Tincan Island Command

 This may have informed why Comptrollers Babajide Jaiyeoba,  who  oversees  Apapa Customs Area Command,  and  Dera Nnadi,  his Counterpart at Tin can Island,   Baba Imam  of PortHarcourt Area II, Onne Command,  Saidu Abba YUsuf of Port Terminal Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML and Shuaibu Ahmadou Bello, overseeing Ogun I, Idiroko Command had  beamed their searchlights on their examination and releasing officers  to ensure that the right thing was done. 

Take for instance, at the Apapa Customs Command, which stake holders had said handles over 50% of the imports coming into the country in February 23, 2024, was said to have collected and paid into the Federation Account N16.02 billion, described as the highest daily collection in the history of the Command.  Compt. Jayioba may have set the stage for other Customs Area Controllers at the ports and Land border Areas to follow.

As a prelude to ensuring that the service meet the government set revenue target of N5.7 trillion set for the service   this 2024, Fiscal year,  the Customs Authorities, according to an insider  source are currently   addressing issues regarding to  trade barriers, believed to be  in line with the new Customs Act.  The Customs helmsman who was said to have’’ deployed Innovations and technology to improve its revenue generation mandate’’ was said to have left no stone unturned in the last three months to do so.

Many believe that the new strategies that had been initiated by the Customs Comptroller General and his Management team has played a major part in improving the Area Commands   monthly revenue collections over the last three months.

This is evident going by the cumulative revenue collections of the various Customs Commands that had hit the   N1.35 trillion mark and which had been paid into the Federation Account between   January and March, 2024 by the service and confirmed by the office of Accountant General of the Federation.  

Giving an insider information, the Customs helmsman who had described  the service first quarter 2024, revenue collection as’’ a remarkable performance’’ had said that it represents a substantial increase of 122.35%  compared to the N606,119,935,146.67 generated  within the same period during the tenure of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, and his predecessor in 2023.

An elated Adeniyi had said that  that the  amount had been generated  by the service despite   the first quarter of 2024, 28 exchange rates   which were directed by Cardoso led CBN  , starting from N951.94 to one US ,  dollar at the AFEM, in January 2024 to a peak of  N1,662.35 in February 2024 .The Customs Chief had said that while a singular exchange rate of N951.94 was maintained in January, February alone witnessed 15 different spot exchange rates   ranging from N951.94 to one US dollar, to N1,662.35 to the American dollar.

The Customs Comptroller General, who could not hide his feelings during the Tuesday, April I, 2024, press briefing  had said that in the month of March, 2024, the service used 13 different spot exchange rates to calculate the cost of clearing cargoes at the ports and Land border points ranging from N1,303.84 to N1,630.16.  He pointed out that these fluctuations had resulted at the ports and Land border Areas forcing the Area Commands were said to have applied an average   exchange rate of N1,314.03 to the US dollar to alculate import duties their clearing agents  to take delivery  of their cargoes at the ports and border posts in the first three months of 2024.

An aggrieved Adeniyi had said that the repercussions of ‘’these forex fluctuation rates had sent wrong signals to the importers with their agents and other stakeholders that Nigeria is not a country to do business because of ‘’the negative and disruptive activities’’.

The growing stability of the naira to the US dollar and other world major currencies at AFEM and the Parallel market in the recent trading days may have informed why the Customs Management with the support of Wale Edun, minister of Finance and Coordinating minister of the Economy, has initiated periodic Consultation s with the apex Bank to mitigate the potential impact of the country’s foreign exchange fluctuations and import and export activities.

The Customs Authorities were said to have also raked in substantial revenue for the government from seized vehicles that littered the nooks and crannies Five Star terminal, at Tincan Island port, PTML and the nation’s Land border Areas.

 Although , the  Osun state Customs Comptroller  General, had said that  a total of N1.6 billion  was generated  through its electronic  auction  platform  Launched  in the first quarter of 2024,  but failed to tell Nigerians the number  of  vehicles  that had been auctioned. An insider told The Value News Magazine that the number of vehicles that had been auctioned to the public so far may not be up to 1000.  Enough of revenue generation by the service. We turn to the service anti-smuggling operations in the last three months.

Acting on the reports of the various Interventionist Units and other Area Commands, across the country, the Customs Comptroller General had said that the service   made over 572 Contraband seizures valued at about N10 billion in the first quarter of 2024.

Tin Can Island extraordinary seizures

One of such spectacular seizures was a cache of arms, ammunition and drugs imported into the country through the Tin can Island port. The seized items, according to Compt. Dera Nnadi, the Tincan Island Area Controller include military camouflage, automatic single rifles and pump action guns, among other weapons. This is in addition to illicit drugs such as colorado, heroin and cocaine.

Another  major Contraband within the  three  months of the Customs Comptroller General’s report  was the 940 Cartridges  of live ammunition that was said to haven meticulously concealed  in sacks of garri  and other harmful  substances  imported into the country  through the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou, in neighbouring Republic of Benin.

Compt. Shuaibu Area Controller, Ogun I, Idiroko:

Compt. Shuaibu, the Ogun I, Area Controller, Idiroko, Ogun state,   had said that the seizure was made possible through credible intelligence gathering from the Nigerian public and which was said to have also led to the seizure 3,172 parcels of Cannabis Saiva, popular Indian hemp, grown in the West African country of Ghana.

The Ogun I, Area Controller, had said that the Command could not have made such a remarkable Contraband seizure in the month of March, 2024, alone without the support of the Customs Comptroller General who was said to have provided the Comnand with all the necessary working tools and operational vehicles that the Patrol team officers were able to take the battle to the smugglers hideouts.

\Live cartridge seiures by Ogun I, Command, Idiroko

Worried by the activities of the economic saboteurs on the nation’s economy,  the nonsense  Customs Comptroller  General,   has warned Nigerians  and other relevant parties  against  smuggling  prohibited items  or engage  in any form  of illicit trade detrimental to the economy.

Not many were surprised at the Customs Comptroller General report on the service anti-smuggling operations as he was said to have made it clear from the beginning of January 2024, fiscal year,   that he would strengthen the service anti-smuggling strategy ‘’ to improve  its performance  and boost the country’s revenue performance’’. True to his words, he appears to have achieved the feat in the first three months of the 2024, Fiscal year and would do more in the second quarter as the naira stabilizes in the country’s Foreign exchange market.  Vintage Adeniyi.

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