How Comptroller Oloyede Closely Monitors Imports At Tin-can Island Port, Now Exporters Haven

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By Stephen Ubanna

This is not the best of times for fraudulent importers with their agents operating as a syndicate at the Tin can Island port to smuggle. This is because Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede, an Information Communication Technology, ICT, expert, and the Customs Command Area Controller appears to be making things very difficult for the seaport smugglers  by tightening up  security at the port to enhance the Command Enforcement and anti-smuggling operations, trade facilitation and improve on its daily, weekly and monthly revenue Collections by blocking all areas of revenue leakage .

Compt.Oloyede: Making Tings Difficult For Smugglers At Tin-can Island Port

 Indeed, the Customs Comptroller may have used the last one month to study the situation at the port before rolling out a three-point agenda: discipline, trade facilitation and improved revenue generation, to achieve his goal in the Command. As a prelude to getting it right he was said to have embarked on a working visits to the port and Terminals under the Command recently which was an eye-opener to him.

He may have been shocked with his first adverse report of the disappearance of alleged 19 Containers loaded with some undisclosed items from the port that was said to have developed wings on the road to the bonded terminal under the Command in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve Centre where it was supposed to be discharged. The news about the 19 missing ‘’40’’ Containers was reported in one of the National Newspapers not the Value News online.

 There are indications that the alleged missing Containers are still in the Customs Computer system but a Coordinator of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, 100 percent Compliance Team, one  Ibrahim Tanko,  had said that  the 19 Containers of ‘’40’’ were still missing.

Many believe that the allegation was a distraction to the Customs Comptroller to derail his focus.  While the Tin can Island Command Area Controller, may have been seen as not to the be paying adequate attention to the Command Enforcement and anti-smuggling operations as he is doing to improve the Command daily, weekly and monthly revenue generation, using his ICT, knowledge, may have informed why the fraudulent importers with their agents had taken things for granted to import goods that may have contravened the government Fiscal policy but were disappointed.

 Unknown to them, the Customs Comptroller had deployed Competent officers to the Command Enforcement Unit who are working closely with the Technical officers  to monitor  closely all the cargoes discharged  at the port to ensure  that only the items comply with the government Fiscal policy to exit the port. 

Customs Intercepted Matchetes

The Customs Comptroller may have sent a message to the seaport smugglers that the Command Enforcement and anti-smuggling unit officers are alive to their duties when they began to make spectacular seizures at the port. One of such seizures that may have sent fears to the fraudulent importers with their agents was the   recent seizure of 206,000 Matchets loaded in eight ‘’20’’ Containers allegedly declared as spare parts.

Given an insider information of the intercepted Containers load of hatchetes valued at about N1.2 billion, Comptroller Oloyede, had said that it was imported into the country through the West African country of Ghana.  Although, Machetetes’, do not fall under the imports Prohibition list of the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET, 2017 to 2021, which had been adopted in the country  in processing the importers’  document but but now now revised . He had revealed that the importer did not obtain the End Users Certificate before going into the importation.

He had said that the importer ought to have obtained the End User Certificate from the of Babagana Mungono, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA’ office but failed to do so.  His major worry was why ”the importer chose to bring such large quantities of Machetes into the country when the 2023, general elections is around the corner, an indications that he may have had an ulterior motive for doing so.

he averred that if Machete is on the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETL, coming from Ghana, with the ETLS Certificate,  it would have been processed and allowed to go and may likely fall into  the wrong hands. The Customs Comptroller had taken Journalists on a tour of the terminal at the port to showcase the seized Matchetes which had been a closely guided secret over the weeks and other items seized within the last three months. Note that the seized Matchetes were not blank but had been sharpened and ready for use’’.

The Customs Comptroller had told those thaht cares to listen that cares to listen that Matchet is a regulated market’’. The Tin can Island Custom boss who could not hide his feelings maintained that the importer of the Containers load of  Matchetes had obtained   the End User Certificate from the NSA’s office , it would have given the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, personnel, at the seaports, airports and Land borders , a clue to know  those who are to use them  and to be able to monitor it closely because of the country’s security challenges. 

He lamented what the situation in the country would have been with the various political parties planning for their primaries to elect their Presidential aspirants and other aspirants for other elective offices across the country for the 2023, general elections if it had exited the port.

Customs Intercepted Colorado Indian Hemp At Tin- can Island Port

Other Contraband items that were said o have been intercepted at the port by the Command vigilant Enforcement officers between January and Mach 2022, include 145 Colorado India Hemp, from the North American country of the United States, US, two units of used Corolla vehicles, 640 bales of used clothing,  236,000 pieces of used shoes and  62,500 of New Lady’s  shoes. The Tin can Island Command Customs boss further disclosed that the Command made a seizure of 48,850 rolls of Cigarettes and 28,800 tins  of Sodium  bromate and baking powder.

 This is in addition to the seizure of some Contraband Medicaments. One of such intercepted Medicaments was 1,670,400 pieces of Chloroquine injections,mg/5ml. Another of such seized Medicaments during the period under review was 814,400 pieces of Novalgen  injection 500mg/ml.

 Valuation experts had put the total value of the seized Contraband items at the portabout N1.5 billion.

Many fear that with the revised  Import Porhibition List , which is contained  in the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures And Tariffs Amendments made up of Suplementary Protection Measures, SPM,  for the implementation of the ECOWA CET, 2022-2026, , more Contraband will be seized by the Command  between now and the end of the year.

Until the NCS migrated  from the ECOWAS CET 2017-2021 to 2022-206, Footwear, of all types, rugs and carpets, Tomatoes, whole or pieces, Tomato paste or Concentrates, Cocoa Butter, Spaghett/Nodles  refined Vegetable Oil, and Medicaments such as Paracetamol Tablets and syrups, Tramadol, Codeine Tablets and Syrups,  Cloroquine Tablets and Syrup, were also on the prohibition list.

With the revised  2017 -221, ECOWAS CET, based on the World Customs Organisation, WCO, Recommendations which  have placed more items on the import Prohibition list, there are indications that more Contraband would be seized at the port between now and the end of 2022 Fiscal year.

While the Tin can Island Customs Comptroller had made appreciable impact over the last three months in the area of Enforcement and anti-smuggling operations, he has proved that his Technical knowledge on the ICT was not a waste. He has effectived used it to the advantage of the Command by blocking all areas of revenues leakage and developing new revenue sources.

 With a daily revenue target of N2. 5 billion, which was said to have been increased to N3.5 billion by the Management, after a careful analysis of the operations and taking a look at the volume of cargo traffic to the port on a daily basis.  

In calculating the total revenue generated by the Command between January and March, 2022, The Tin- can Island Area Controller, had said that the Command generated total of a N135,443,223,283.31 billion. He noted that  that the revenue generated within the period was an improvement  over the amount generated within thin the same period the previous year by about N23 billion or 18%.

Going by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, approved SPM, which is in line with the ECOWAS revised CET, 2022-2026, annexes I, II and III, maritime analysts are optimistic that the Command would generate more revenue  for the government from Non-Oil Imports between now and December 2o22. They had cited  the annex, I, particular, of the ECOWAS, 2022-2026, CET, which, is the Import Adjustment, IAT, list, with additional Taxes and Levies on 172 Tariff Lines Commodities, . Note that the implementation of the revised ECOWAS CET, 2017- 2021, had started on April 1, 2022, being the beginning of the second quarter of the year, 2022.

The Customs Comptroller is also optimistic that with ‘’the e-Customs agenda of the service and the recent deployment of the Non-intrusive technology such as scanners the Command would  be able to achieve its core responsibilities  of revenue generation, trade Facilitation and Enforcement of government policies’’.

Another area, the Command could boast that it has performed creditably well is promoting export through the port. There are indications that a total of 71,014,MT, with a total Free On Board, FOB,  Value,  of N56,205,901,295.00, were exported  through the Tin can Island port between January and March 2022, thus turning the port as an export haven.

Commodities  that were said to have been exported through the Lagos port includes Copper, Ingots, Stainless Ingots, Sesame Seeds, Cashew Nuts, Cocoa Beans, Rubber, Cocoa Butter, Leather, Ginger and Frozen Shrimps , among others.

Recall that in the first quarter of 2021,  only 44,502.9MT,  of cargoes, with a total FOB value,  of N31.371,825,954.00 of the  same exportable Commodities passed through the port to the buyers in different parts of Europe, Asia, particular, China and US, including the United Kingdom, UK.

The Tin-can Island Customs boss may have shocked Nigerians when he said  that  despite the  successes  that had been achieved by the Command between January and March 2022,  ‘’it is still facing challenges  in the area of  treatment  of overtime cargo because of the non-implementation  of the extant  laws  guiding  uncleared cargoes at the Nigerian ports’’.

He further stated that ‘’lack of Government Warehouses   at close proximity  to the ports has not helped matters as it has led to difficulties in logistics and handling cost of goods’’.

An appreciative Comptroller Oloyede  had thanked Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS,  and his Management Team  for all their support  ‘’towards  strengthening the capacity  of the service  to perform  its statutory  responsibilities  in line with international best practices’’.

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