By Elizabeth Chukwuma
For the past two weeks , the arious Customs Commands, spokespersons have kept the Media busy with their press releases on their Area Comptrollers scorecard for the first half of 2021.
The reports are very revealing that despite the adverse effect of the Asian country of China, emerged coronavirus, popular, Covid 19, on global economy, it had little or no negative effect on the volume of cargoes that was said to have entered the Lagos port of Apapa under the close watch of Comptroller Malanta Yusuf.
The good working relationship and Understanding between Yusuf, the Apapa Customs Comptroller and Aliyu Bello, a Deputy Comptroller, who is an Accountant by Profession and the Command APC, was said to have helped in blocking areas of revenue Leakage at the port which is reflected in the revenue collection of the Command between January and June 2021.
An elated Yusuf, who was a former APM, of the Area Command , before being elevated to the enviable rank of Comptroller of the Command, and who many believes knows the good and the bad agencies may have gladdened the heart of the officers to put more effort in their job at the port and the various terminals under the control of the Command when he revealed that between January and June 2021, the Command had generated N366 billion, showing an increase of o61% when compared to the N227 billion that was said to have been collected by the Command during the same period in 2020.
He noted that since he became the Area of the Lagos Premier port, the monthly revenue generation of the Command been on the increase from the N48 billion , inherited from Abba Kura, his Predecessor, who is now an Assistant Comptroller General, Customs Headquarters, to the N78.4 billion generated in month of June, 2021. The revenue generation by the Command in the month of June clearly shows that Yusuf and his APM, particular, have successfully blocked areas of revenue leakage at the port. A breakdown of the monthly revenue generation of the Command further shows that N52 billion, was collected in in the month of March and N66 billion in the month April.
Many believe that the revenue of the Command had continued to be on the increase because of the challenge given to the Deputy Comptrollers who are the terminal Heads and other members of the Command Management Team , by the Ahmadu Shuaibu led Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force Team A, between September Last Year and December, , to ensure that the right things are done . The Terminal Heads and the APM, may have gotten the message clear from the CGC Strike Force, Coordinator, Team A, that that they had to avoid Compromise to avoid playing into the hands of CGC, Strike Force Coordinator and his men at the port.
It is not surprising why Maritime analysts would want Yusuf , the Apapa Comptroller, to appreciate the good work which the CGC, Strike Force, Team, A, did on his terminal Heads and other members of the Management Team which had snowballed into the improved revenue collection of the port.
The quantities of export that was said to have passed through the premier port, such as sesame seed, ginger, hibiscus flower and other mineral resources were said to be very encouraging. An insider report shows that that the total tonnage of the export that had passed through the port was 1.6 million tonnes with Free On Board, FOB, value of $103 million.
Despite ensuring that the Command collects the appropriate revenue from the volume of cargo imports through the port, Yusuf and his Enforcement officers did not rule out the fact that there be attempts by some bad eggs at the port to do the unexpected: smuggle with the active Connivance of their Customs Collaborators. This may have informed why the officials of theCommand Enforcement unit have always tapped their contacts to get secret information on cargo being released at the port. It is not surmising why scores of Containers had fallen into the waiting hands of the Enforcement officers in the last six months both at APM Terminal, SI FAX and other Terminals under the control of the Command which had contravened the government Fiscal policy.
The Apapa Customs Comptroller, who may look Calm, is ever ready to embarrass anyone found around his office even invitation had said that his Enforcement Team, did the Command proud with the Containers intercepted and which were recommended for seizures and approved by his office.
He had said that the Command made a seizure of N27.6 billion worth of goods, which included the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, unregistered Pharmaceutical drugs, tramadol, used Clothing, Tomato Paste among others. He had said that the reduction in the level of anti-smuggling operations at the port had been one of the major factors that had had resulted into improved the level of Compliance at the port and the subsequent increase in its monthly revenue collections.
Given the improved revenue collection by the Command in the last six months, yUSUF, who could not his feelings could beat his chest that the revenue that had been made by the Command has never been recorded by any past Comptroller of the Command in recorded history. Financial analysts said there was no basis to compare notes with past Administrations of the Command because the official exchange rate of the naira to the dollar were different during the different periods. They believe that the revenue generated by any former Comptroller, of the Command, was much higher when placed side by side with the currently monthly revenue generation of Comptroller y Yusuf Administration.
He may have known that something needed to done to tsustain the current level of Compliance by importers with their agents at the port to ensure that cargo throughtput would be faster in order to translate to improved revenue collection at the port . His optimism was informed by the fact importers with their agents, sparingly indulge in false declarations wrong Classifications or under payments or Concealment for fear of losing the Consignments to government or being given Demand Notice, DN, which runs into millions of naira.