By Stehen Ubanna
Pressure by President Muhammadu Buhari on the revenue generating and reporting agencies to ensure they meet their yearly targets may have forced Hameed Ali , a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to take it up with the Comptrollers at the seaports and Land borders to ensure areas of revenue leakages were blocked.
This may have forced Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos and his counterparts in Kaduna, Owerri and Bauchi , to beam their searchlight on the Cart mart leaders in their areas of Jurisdiction. The essence is to ensure that the vehicles on display on the cart marts have the relevant import documents and appropriate duties paid on them.
Investigation by The Value News shows that the exercise turned out brutal in the ancient city of Kano, regarded as the haven of vehicle smugglers in the north as a Customs patrol vehicle was destroyed by hoodlums.
The situation was said to be different in Lagos where Riks Lura, a no nonsense Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, and Head of the FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Team was said to have taken effective control of the situation. Insiders informed the Magazine that he had led the operations in the Lagos axis with his team members following behind.
Unconfirmed report shows that between Saturday, September 28, 2019 and Monday, September 30, 2019, he team sealed about 76 cart mart marts in Lagos alone. This is a signal to other car mart owners in Ogun , Oyo, Osun, Eki and Ondo states , that the game is up. They have one option, either to go back to FOU, Zone A, Ikeja , office , to perfect their vehicle documents to avoid being taken unawares by Ricks who is used to big challenges.
As at Wednesday, October 2, 2019, most of the Cart marts were still under lock and key. It was learnt that Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, has set up a Committee, Headed by the FOU, Zone A Deputy Comptroller Reevenue , with members drawn from the Customs Headquarters , Abuja, and the Command, to attend to the cart mart dealers . They were said to have the Comptroller General mandate to recover all the lost revenue from the cart mart dealers before giving approval for their cart marts to be reopened for business.
The Magazine cited one of the notable car mart dealers around the FOU, Zone A, premises , Ikeja, who disclosed that the Committee have started sitting to receive Complaints from the dealers who were affected in the lock up exercise. He noted that genuine cart mart owners have no reason to worry as the Committee members are not out to witch hunt any person.
Those who are dealing mostly on smuggled vehicles may not have any cause to worry either, as the vehicles may not be seized . This is because the Customs Committee may not be ready to recommend for the seizure of such vehicles but to ensure that appropriate duties and surcharges are paid on such vehicles. This is because of the Customs drive to beef up its revenue generation to ensure that it sustains its trillion naira revenue target which it had maintained over the last three years.
In a related Development, importers who have resorted to Transierre, to take delivery of their cargoes at the seaports in Lagos to be examined in their warehouse to escape the FOU, Zone A, Lagos Roving Team troubles on the road may have to watch it. They not have escaped it as Riks may still swoop on them if there are suspected cases of Concealment identified in any of the Containers after profiling the importer.
Recall that Katsina state born Nigerian President has made it clear to the revenue generating agencies, particular, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, NCS and Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, that they must meet their yearly revenue target. Giving the country’s 59th Independence anniversary speech on Tuesday, he had warned against failure by any revenue generating agency because of the dire consequences.
He was said to have also promised to reward agencies which may do exceptionally well in their revenue generation. Note that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had approved a 7 percent and 4 Percent cost of collection for the NCS and FIRS, respectively , as a way to encourage the agencies to intensify more efforts in their revenue generation drive.
This may have forced the agencies to compete among themselves in their revenue generation drive. The positive effect of the presidential reward was to be noticed in Customs operations a few years later as the revenue generation hit the trillion naira bracket which had remained the exclusive preserve of NNPC. The Customs has sustained the trillion naira revenue bracket over the last three years.
It is not surprising why Customs officials are optimistic of going to be one of the first agencies that would to win the Presidential reward as it is certain of meeting its 2019 revenue target and even surpass it. This is evident going by the snippets from the revenue generation from the major Commands: Apapa, Tincan Island and Onne Command in the third quarter of 2019.
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