For years , importers with their agents and their Customs Collaborators hadfound a way of flooding the Nigerian Market with tramadol Pharmaceutical products by transferring Containers loaded with such items to the Bonded terminals where they were quickly cleared and delivered at the importer’s warehouse by the agent. The discovery of over 40 Containers load of the drug at Apapa port at the instance of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, by Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit , FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Headed By Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent may have opened Ali’s eyes to the rot at the ports. Note that it took the Lura FOU Team about one week to sort out the tramadol Containers which were promplyseized and kept in the custody of the Apapa Command at the Government Warehouse.
Note that an additional 12 Container’s of the item was also found at Federal Ocean Lighter Terminal , Onne, Rivers State and nine Containers at Tin-can Island port last year alone. Perhaps, to stop the flooding of tramdol into the Nigeria market, the Customs Comptroller General was said to have banned the clearing of Pharmaceutical products generally outside the nation’s seaports, described as a step in the right direction by the Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria.
The Value News
learnt that since the Customs boss came out with the policy
Statement, Abdullahi Musa, Comptroller
Tin-can Island Command and the
Command Compliance Unit, Headed by
Mahmud Ibrahim, an Assistant
Comptroller had cue into the policy to ensure that no Container load of
Pharmaceutical product imported through the port were cleared outside the port.
Ibrahim and his officers , according to sources, are not giving anything to
chance as they have been on the neck of importers and agents to ensure total compliance to the Comptroller General’s order on
clearing of Pharmaceutical products at the ports only.
Recall that last month, a Container load of tramadol was discovered at the port during examination which was said to have been handed over to the Command Enforcement Unit Headed by Dera Nnadi, a Deputy Comptroller for keeps. Many believe that since the deployment of Ibrahim, the Customs Assistant Comptroller, to the Command Compliance Unit, there have been a significant improvement in Compliance to government fiscal policies by importers with their agents at the port. This is because of the Customs Headquarters insistence on 100 percent examinations of imported cargoes because of the state of scanning machines at the ports. Note that many of the scanners had broken down over the years , awaiting repairs.
Agents who spoke to the Magazine described the Compliance Unit boss at Tincan as a workaholic who have saved the country millions of naira throughissuance of Demand Notice, DN, to non Compliant officers who had tried to shortchange the government in the recent time. A member of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, averred that the Tincan Island Compliance Unit, described as a , DN Unit, are really making good money for the Command. The LCCI, member noted that both for the aggressiveness ofIbrahim who believes in details and ensures that the right things are done, the story would have been different at the Command. The revenue generated by the Command between January and March 2019, speaks volume.
An elated Musa, the Area Comptroller disclosed that the Command generated N 78.8 billion as against N76. 7 billion realised within the same period last year despite the low cargo traffic at the port. The revenue situation of the Command may have been made worse with the ban on 43 items, regarded as high revenue yielding ,from accessingthe foreign exchange market by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, the governor , who has been re-appointed for another five years tenure by president Muhammadu Buhari. The impressive revenue generation may have strengthened the resolve of Ibrahim and his officers to do more to ensure that that the Command revenue generation in the second of the year , would be much better than the figure declared in the first quarter.
Virtually revenue loopholes exploited by importers and agents in the past appear to have been blocked as Ibrahim with the support of Musa, the Area Comptroller, properly scrutinize all import documents sent to his office and those who have been found , had been issued with DN. It is not surprising why the LCCI, importers and agents describe the Tin-can Island Compliance Unit as a DN Office. The situation at Apapa port look worrisome despite claims by Abba Kurah, the Area Comptroller that the stakeholders using the port for their transactions are trade compliant.
The value News informant at the port disclosed that if not for the constant intervention at the port by the Headquarters Strike Force under the close watch of Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller and the National Coordinator by participating in examination, the fraud at the port would have been much as the importers with their agents are ready to buy their way to take delivery of their cargoes.
The fallout was that the resident officers had connived with
the agents to fight for the withdrawal of the adhoc team from the sea ports and roads on the excuse that that they are delaying the
clearance of goods at the ports.