By Stephen Ubanna
Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede, Area Controller, Tin can Island Command has given an insight why the Command would surprise Nigerian this 2022, Fiscal year, in its revenue generation as the country approach the month of December. He has his reason. This is because the Command has virtually blocked all areas of revenue leakage at the port as obtained at PortHarcourt Area II, Onne Command, under the close watch of Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, which had genereated N115. 26 billion in six months despite the decline in the volume of throughput through the port.
The Tican Island Customs Comptroller who had cited the issue of Machine Outside, MO, which was a major problem AT the Tincan Island Command over the years , leading to loss of billions of naira in government revenue disclosed that the matter had been addressed with the Automation of its operations.
He had said that the Information Communication Staff, ICT, personnel who are always on the system 24 hours looking through the back ends to know what the trading public are doing ‘’to ensure that they do not against the system since they are allowed to work 24 hours in their own system’’ have been able block to block all loopholes that may be used by the Agents to take delivery of their client’s cargoes at the port.
He gave an instance of the at incident at Five Star Logistics Terminal that was said to have been discovered while profiling the Concessionaire payments in three months of its operations at the port. The Command ICT facility had triggered off when it found an unpaid Assessment bill of N97.3 billion.
The Customs Comptroller who had been on the case with the Five Star Logistics Management was said to have communicated to Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller, General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, about the development.
The Unpaid Assessment debt was said to have been accumulated within an interval of three months. The Concessionaire may not have known much about the fraud but Complete Oloyede had blamed it over their inability to protect the facility that was given to them manage to ensure that’’ the right thing was done by the trading public’’. The discovery of the N97.3 billion unpaid Assessment debt at the Five Star Logistics Terminal , may have sent a signal to other Terminal operators at the port that it is no longer going to be business as usual as the system could always trigger off at the time if any unpaid Assessment was discovered.
On Friday, July 22, 2022, the Customs Comptroller, had broken the good news that the Concessionaire, which handles the only RORO, facility at the Tincan Island port has paid the N97.3 billion debt, stating that the receipt is already with him. He had said that the Concessionaire had given reasons why it will not pay the debt but had to pay it because the system does not work like that.
Although, the Concessionaire had paid the outstanding N97.3 million debt as confirmed Comptroller Oloyede, he had said that he do not have the powers to order the reopening of the Terminal for full operation. This is because issue had been investigate at the instance of the Comptroller General and it must still go round through the same process for the Customs helmsman to confirm
the Concessionaire repayment, notwithstanding the receipt of payment was already on his table. He has made importers with their agents who are lamenting of the impending huge economic loss to the nation due to Fiver Star Logistics Terminal closure that it was not closed as the staff are still doing their work.
He may have kept the agents, particular, on a state of confusion when he opined that as soon as the Customs Comptroller General gives the order for the reopening of the terminal officially for the trading public, he will not hesitate to do so. Officials of Five Star Logistics Terminal for now, may have learnt their Lesson from the deactivation of their access point to the Customs portal that they may have blocked all loopholes exploited by Importers with their Agents to shortchange the government.
Note that vehicle imports through the Tincan Island port alone, accounts for about 30 percent of the Command total annual revenue. Uche Ejesieme, a Chief Superintendent of Customs had said that Five Stars Logistics Terminal is very criticical to the Command Operations andcontribution to its yearly revenue generations.
Comptroller Oloyede may have shocked Nigerians when hen he revealed that since the deactivation of the the Concessionaire access to its portal because of its inability to protect it, in the last one month, the Command daily revenue had hit N 2.5 billion, stressing that the Command had also collected N4.2 billion for the government.
It was not surprising why the Tin can Island Customs Comptroller could beat his chest that the Command will surprise the nation this year when he disclosed that Mercedes Benz and other brands of vehicles not captured in the Customs portal have been included as ‘’the system has been updated’’.
He asserted that ‘’the implementation of the Vin-Valuation data service, which depends solely on the information stored on the Customs and third party databases to determine the value of the imported vehicle for the purpose of determining Customs duty’’, based on its unique Identification , known as the Chasis Number, would certainly help to jerk up the Command’s daily revenue from imported vehicles.
Giving an insider information about the VIN –Valuation service as a digital guru, he disclosed that ‘’the objective is to simplify and facilitate the Customs clearance process of Legitimately imported vehicles by providing uniform, fair and neutral value across board on vehicles with identical brands, model and year of manufacture in line with the provisions of Article VII of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT, of 1994’’.
However, he noted that that there vehicles imported from Dubai ,United Arab Emirate , UAE, which are still not captured in the portal. This may have informed why he has asked the Leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders,NAGAFF, National Association of Managing Directors Of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, and other Associations, to provide the Command with the list of vehicle brands that are still not yet captured in the Customs portal for proper valuation.
Besides the implementation of the VIN-Valuation service expected to boost the Command’s daily revenue generation at the Tin can Island Command, Comptroller Oloyede, who could not hide his feelings had said that the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures based on the Economic Community of West African States, Common External Tariff, ECOWAS CET, which include ‘’ the introduction of excise duty on non –alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and tobacco products as well as Telecommunication services was another major boost to its revenue collections.
Note that the 2022, Fiscal Policy Measure, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for implementation by the NCS, which was made up, of 2022-26, Supplementary Protection Measures, SPM, for implementation of the ECOWAS CET, the Annex I, had introduced an Import Adjustment Tax, IAT which included additional taxes and levy On 172 tariff lines of extant ECOWAS CET goods.
The Customs Comptroller further said that’’ the utilizationchapters, 98 and 99, initially reserved by the World Customs Organisation for contracting parties will boost its revenue generation during the year. The two WCO chapters, he had said ‘’ accommodate imports by bonafide assemblers and manufacturers who use these products of input in the critical sectors of the economy.
He noted that initially goods in these WCO Chapters were prohibited from exportation but with the 2022 Fiscal Policy which allows such goods imports into Nigeria to be exported subject to payment of 2.5% of the current market value of the items being exported, will further increase its monthly revenue generation or the government.
He had volunteered information that between January 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022, the Command had generated and paid into the Federation Account about N274. 321 billion, which shows a 27% increase over the revenue collection by the Command within the same period in 2021.
The Tin can Island Customs boss, believes that the deployment of the Customs non –intrusive scanners for examination of cargoes at the port would add to its revenue collections. This is because of the hundreds of Containerised cargoes that would be examined daily compared to the few Containers the examined manually on a daily basis as delays would be eliminated.
Indeed, while Comptroller Oloyede is still optimistic of surprising Nigerians in its revenue collection this Fiscal year, he still has one major challenge at hand to tackle at port : forging of his signature by desperate Agents to exit their cargo from the port. The Tin can Island Customs boss had confirmed that a syndicate of four Agents who specialize in forging signature had forged his signature to take delivery of their vehicles from the port were not lucky as they were caught in the act by Customs personnel on duty at the Terminal.
Many believe that the syndicate could forge the Area Controller’s signature to take delivery of their clients’, vehicles because the signature aspect of Area Controllers has not been automated. The Customs Comptroller had confirmed that the syndicate had attempted to use his forged signature to exit four units of used truck heads, one unit of used Toyota Sequoia, 2008 model, one unit of used Mercedes Benz, GL450, 2008 model and one unit of used 2011 Toyota Runner but were disappointed because of the tight security at the port.
. They were said to have been promptly arrested by eagle eye officers at the port and subsequently detained. The high profile agents, as described by the Tincan Island Area Controller were said to have been handed over to the police for further investigation. According a Customs Lawyer, who spoke with the Value News Platform, the case is still on going and may not be resolved in one day as a 2016, case is still on the Area Controller’s office, awaiting Court judgment on it.