Onne:   No Hiding Place For Fraudulent Importers And Smugglers, Compt. Mohammed Makes Impressive Revenue Collections In Six Months  

By Stehen Ubanna

 Not many people are surprised that Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, Area Controller, PortHarcourt Area II,  Command,  with office at Onne seaport ,  has made the port  to be too hot  for Fraudulent  importers with their agents and smugglers.  The Onne  Customs Comptroller may have sent a signal to the importers with their agents that the era of making false declaration, wrong classification,  Concealment  or making underpayment  is over  when he was deployed to the Command in 2020.

The Customs Comptroller was said to have blocked  all the areas of revenue leakage at the port  and tightened up security at the port exit gate to effectively  monitor the movement of cargoes in and out of the port  to ensure that the right thing was done.

 He may have relaxed in the recent time  the tight security put up  by  Ibrahim Mahmood , a Deputy Copmtroller, overseeing the exit gate and his  officers that it has been difficult for the fraudulent importers with their agents to exit the gate with their suspected cargoes. Those who were said to have made attempts to have their way were said to have had their Containers  transferred to the Command Enforcsement Unit for proper Examination  and subsequent issuance of Demand Notice, DN, or outright seizure.

WACT, Onne

The  Officers at the Command at the Enforcement Unit  may have made matters worse for the Fraudulent importers with their agents  and their security agencies collaborators  by putting a close tab at what is happening at West African Container Terminal, WACT, and other Terminals within and outside the port  to ensure that Containers positioned for Examination were thoroughly examined  and they have been able to make  Contraband seizures over the last seizures.

Ifeoma Ijeoma Ojekwe, a Superintendent  and the Command Spokesperson,  had said that between January 1st, 2022 and June 30, 2022,  the Command had made  28  seizures , comprising of nine Containers,  both ‘’20’’ and ‘’40’’ and Contrabands valued at about  N531.4 million.

 Giving an insider information , the Onne Customs spokesperson  said the Contraband items that were seized by the Command within six months of 2022,   were matchets, which were imported into the country without the End User Certificate  from the office of Babagana Munguno,  a Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA.  Many had expected her to give out the quantity of the matchets that were seized but she failed to do so, keeping Nigerians guessing.

One Of The Nine Impounded Containers At Onne Port Loaded With Contraband

Recall that last April, Comproller Adekunle  Oloyede, the Area Comptroller of Tincan Island Command  had seized  eight ‘’20’’ Containers  comprising of  Two hundred and six thousand pieces  of brand new  matchetes. The matchetes imports were seized by the Command beause it did not have the End Use Certificate from the office of the NSA.

Other contraband seizures that were said to  have been  made by the Onne Command within the six months under review  as explained by the Customs Superintendent  include Vegetable oil, soap, used clothing, used tyres,  foreign par boiled rice concealed in Containers  and tomato paste,  used vehicle spareparts and other items that were  classified as prohibited in the 2022, fiscal policy  for which  duty payment were not made.

Another area, PortHarcourt  Area II Command  under the close watch of Compt. Mohammed had made appreciable impact at the Onne port in the last six months  was in revenue generation.  Although, the Custom Comptroller had kept as a closely guided secret the revenue target set for the Command by Hammed Ali, An Army Colonel, rtd , led Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Management Team from its N3.1trillion set for it by the Federal Government,  there are indications that the Onne Area Controller who had successfully blocked all  areas of revenue leakage at the port had and his officers have been working towards the realisation of its monthly targets.

 The release  of the approval for implementation  of the 2022 Fiscal policy  measures and tariff amendment  by Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning on March 1st, 2022,  and subsequently distributed to the Customs Formations by the Customs helmsman last May wassaid to have forced Compt. Mohammed and his Management Team to go back to the drawing board to perfect plans  on how to improve on its monthly revenue collection, and trade facilitation.

The 2022 fiscal policy measures, which  was said to have been made up of  the  Supplementary  Protection  Measures , SPM, for the implementation  of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Common External Tariff, CET, , 2022-2026,  Excise duties  on non-alcoholic beverages  alcoholic beverages,  Cigarettes,  Tobacco  products  as well as Telecommunication services.

The approved SPM, according to the minister  was’’ in line  with the provisions  of the ECOWAS CET which  comprise  of Import Adjustment Tax, IAT,  list with additional  taxes  on 172  tariff lines  of extant  ECOWAS CET’’. There are indications that the import Prohibition list  Trade for the 2022 Fiscal year was also revised, which may have put more goods on the import prohibition list  and more  job for the Command Exit gate and Enforcement officers to do.

Superintendent Ojekwe, the PortHacourt Area II Command,  spokesperson had said that the Command generated   a total sum of about  N115.264 billion in the first six months of 2022, compared to  the N78 billion that  was netted by the Command within the same period in 2021 and about N46.6 billion in 2020 fiscal year.

 Informed sources told The Value News that the Command collected the highest duties on imported goods between the months of May and June, 2022, with the implementation of the approved 2022 fiscal Policy Measures which was in line with the ECOWAS extant CET.

Maritime analysts believe that Compt. Mohammed led Port Harcourt Area II, Could make that much in its revenue collection in six months despite the low volume of cargo traffic with the deployment of its scanners received from the Customs Headquarters in September 2021.

Prior to the deployment of the scanners for operation at the port,  Compt. Mohammed had said  that  the Examination officers comprising of  officers and other security agencies personnel, could examine 100 Containers, both’’20’’ and ‘’40’’ Containers daily  but with the deployment of the scanners, the number of the  Containers examined by the Command would  increase significantly.

 Saidu Galadima, an Assistant  Comptroller General of Customs,  overseeing the  Information, Communication and Technology, ICT, /Modernisation, Departmenet,  had said that  that the scanner equipment  could  scan 400 Containers daily when fully put into use.

 In the Area of exports, the Command was said to have handled  a total of  876,775.99 metric tonnes of cargoes  with  $495,334,221.99  Free On Board, FOB,  value , equivalent of N203,969,499,562.18,  and Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme, NESS,  value of N1,075, 060,914,.52, within the period under review .

 Indeed, with the impressive performance of the PortHarcourt Area II, Command in the  first half of 2022,  the Onne Customs Area Controller was said to have  asked the various  Heads of Unit and the officers under them  ‘’to brace up for the second half the year’’  , which he believes would be much better as all ‘’the necessary measures have put in place  to make the difference in its anti-smuggling operations and revenue collection  as well as encourage more exports through the seaport to the West Coast and the International market’’.  

The Customs Comptroller is optimistic that with ‘’the cooperation  with the other security agencies,  Camaraderie,  Intelligence gathering and sharing  in implementing the 2022, government Fiscal Policy measures  to enhance  national security  at the country’s seaports and Land border areas  for the economic interests of the country, the Command will make  more impressive revenue collections and contraband seizures  in the remaining second half of the 2022 Fiscal year.  Vintage Compt. Mohammed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


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