Onne Revenue: Compt. Mohammed Keeps To His Promise Of ”Surprising Nigerians”

 By Stephen Ubanna

Towards the tail end of 2021, Awwal Mohammed, Comptroller, Port Harcourt Area II, had said that he will surprise Nigerians with the revenue generation of the Command. He was emphatic: We are going to surprise almost everybody with the revenue generation of the Command for the year despite the low cargo traffic to the Onne port for people to appreciate the officers’ efforts in their revenue generation drive.

The Customs Comptroller has every reason to beat his chest that the Command will perform excellently well, by stating that the total revenue generation of the Command when it will be calculated at the end of 20221 would shocking to those  who never wished the Command well.

 Many believe that the Onne Customs Comptroller and his Management Team, had initiated new strategies to consolidate on the monthly revenue generation of the Command. Informed sources told The Value News that the Comptroller policy of’’ no compromise, tight security at the exit gate  manned by Mahmood Ibrahim, a deputy Comptroller, blockage of  areas of revenue leakage and the effective use of the one  Hilux Van allocated to the Command for its Operations by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs service, NCS, had  helped the Command to go extra-miles to contain the activities of fraudulent importers with their agents who were said to have been whipped to shape to do the right thing by pay paying the appropriate duties  for their Consignments without cutting coners as  was the case in the past.

 Those who have tried to play smart would never forget their experience in a hurry as their Consignment had been stopped at the gate due to one reason or the other ranging from wrong Classification, Underpayment, Concealment and under-declaration and subsequently transferred to the Enforcement unit for proper examination. Importers whose Containers have been found wanting have been detained, and Demand Notice, DN ,issued or out rightly  seized as  a deterrence to others .

True to the Comptroller’s promise, to surprise Nigerians with the total revenue generation of the Command for the year 2021, he has kept to it. A Statement made available to The Magazine by Ijeoma Onuigbo, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the Command spokesperson shows that the Command , made a total revenue collection of  N188.44 billion , described as a ‘’record breaking collection’’ in Customs and agents circles between January  to December , 2021.

Compt. Mohammed Of Port Harcourt Area II, Command

Signs that Comptroller Mohammed and his officers are set to make a record breaking revenue collection began to manifest in August 2021, when the Command monthly revenue collection began to rise as areas of revenue leakage were totalyl blocked. Deputy Comptroller Ibrahim, the Command ,senior officer, overseeing the exit gate, who had the backing of the Area Comptroller was said to have used his digital knowledge to find out the exact price of  imported goods passing through the port at the International market to ensure that the appropriate  revenue s are collected on the imports.

 An insider  informed the Magazine that the Customs Deputy Comptroller spends most of his time in the office working on  his d             desktop without rest based on the document forwarded to the gate by the importer  to exit their cargoes.

Recall that at one time, the agents under the umbrella of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, which has Tony Iju Nwabunike, as their National President, had demonstrated at the port, calling for the removal of the Customs Deputy Comptroller at the exit gate for subjecting their Containers to rigorous check at the gate and ordering the transfer of suspected cases to the Enforcement Unit for proper Examination.

 Comptroller Mohammed may have ignored the agents call for the Deputy Comptroller removal because he knew he was doing the right thing which had resulted in the improved revenue generation of the Command.  It is instructive to note that in August, 2021, alone, the Command had generated and paid into the Federation Account about   N17.8million while N18.2 billion was collected in the month of September and N19 billion in the month of October. Note that that the Cumulative revenue collected by the Command between January to October,2021,was N143 billion.

 The revenue collected by the Command in the months of November and December, 2021 was said to have grown astronomically as the importers with their agents on their own volition decided to do the right thing to avoid playing into the hands of the exit gate officers who are likely to transfer their Containers to the Enforcement Unit where it stands chances of being seized. It was not surprising that the Command collected about N188.44 billion in 2021, Fiscal year, which the Area Comptroller had said was about   N70  billion more than the amount  collected by the Command in 2020.

 Giving the tight security at the exit gate and the synergy between the officers and the Enforcement Unit officers, the Command had made a total of 34 Contraband seizures which had contravened the government Fiscal Policy. The Duty Paid Value, of the seized items,  the Customs Command, Area Controller, had said was about N12 billion.

 Prominent  among the items  that were said to have been seized by the Command included  1,387 cartons of tramadol, allegedly imported from the Asian country of India but ‘’falsely declared by the importer with his agent to evade payment of duty, Foreign  par boiled rice from Thailand, ,  engine parts, vegetable oil  and other Concealed items  with  ‘’intent  by the unrepentant importers with their agents  to also evade payment of accurate duties’’.

The Onne Command Customs Comptroller may have taken advantage of the government incentives to encourage export of locally produced Agricultural goods to Europe, United Kingdom, Asia and the North American country of  the United States, US and other manufactured goods to the west and Central African sub-regional markets to make the Onne port , the first choice of exporters in Nigeria.

The fallout was that between January and December, 2021, the Command, export Seat had processed 1,083,367,568, metric tonnes of cargo with a total Free On Board, FOB, value of $402,367,568.  Also, the Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme, NESS, value of the total export, was put at about N764.5 million.

It is on record that the huge import and export revenue made by the Command was achieved without the deployment of the Customs procured scanners for its operations, meaning that the story will be different with the planned deployment of the technology for the examination of cargoes this year.

 Appealing to Importers and  exporters ‘’to brace up with the new technology to avoid running into trouble with his officer at the port  as the Command has concluded arrangement to deploy  the service  procured scanners for its operations soon, he noted that’’ it will faster cargo clearance  and easier detection of concealment,   as well as enhance further enhance trade facilitation’’ .

The Customs Comptroller had boasted that ‘’if  hitherto  the examination officers at the port  could handle  one hundred  Containers daily through physical examination of Containers , but with the introduction  of the  mobile scanner equipment  for examination of import and export cargoes, these would be doubled  to two hundred Containers daily, meaning that more will be generated by the Command for the government in 2022 and in the future.  

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