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League of Maritime Editors urges Buhari to appoint career officer as Customs CG

* Seeks removal of CG’s
Strike Force at Ports

President Muhammadu Buhari

As President
Muhammadu Buhari prepares to begin his second term in office after a successful
poll in his favour, the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers has called on
him to carry out a major reform in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The League urged
President Buhari to consider, for the sake of the national economy, the
appointment of a career Customs Officer   to the position of
Comptroller General.
The   Association
said that the Customs Service under Col. Hammed Ali(rtd) has only
focused on revenue generation without considering trade facilitation, which is
imperative for Nigeria as a member of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and
the World Trade Organization(WTO). Nigeria is a signatory to both global
bodies’ conventions on trade facilitation.
A career customs
officer appointed  from  the serving officers in the system, the
group said, is be better equipped to drive the Customs Service to enviable
position in terms of  trade  facilitation which the  global
economic community is earnestly yearning for and repositioning the service to
achieve its  core mandate for the nation’s economic development.
According to the
group, in line with the international best practices, there is currently no
member of the WCO, where a non-career Customs officer is heading the Service.
In a statement
signed by the League President, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke and the Secretary, Mr.
Francis Ugwoke, they stated:  “Your Excellency may note that there is
nowhere in the world where a non-career officer heads the Customs Service as
such position requires a career officer who has deep rooted knowledge on trade
and tariff  matters. 
“ As it is now, the Customs which is headed by a former
military officer, Col. Hammed Ali,(rtd) is only concerned  about
 revenue generation with little or no emphasis on trade facilitation and
human capacity development.  
This is contrary to the conventions and the
rules of engagement of the WCO and the WTO which are in the
forefront of championing trade facilitation as imperative to economic
“Your Excellency
may also be informed that trade facilitation when properly pursued by a career
officer in the system will in itself automatically raise revenue generation
more than what is being realized now. What is seen as a regular increase in
revenue generation by the present leadership of the Customs is as a result of
the prevailing foreign exchange rate with which import duty is calculated”, the
group noted.
The group also
condemned the recent decision by the Customs Service allowing the operatives of
the CG Strike Force to re-examine goods inside the ports and seize them if
The group, however
noted that it was not averse to the operations of the strike force, which is in
line with the prerogative of the  CG to appoint committees to
enhance  the Service’s core mandates and the war against smuggling
activities, but frowns on the directive empowering the Strike Force to operate
inside the port, which negates the negates the spirits of the global
According to
the group, that shows a clear indication of ‘vote of no confidence’ on the
resident Customs officers inside the ports.
Dismissing the
reasons adduced by the Customs authority for the decision, the group said
 what the Customs Service should have done to ensure that officers do
their job very well would have been to carry out serious disciplinary measures
 against any erring officers; not duplication of functions.
The implication of
the presence of the Strike Force in the ports is that importers will now pay
more as a result of extortionist tendencies.
The Editors
therefore urged the federal government to ensure the installation of scanners at
the examination bays for seamless clearance of goods and the enhancement of the
48 hrs cargo clearance target.  

That, they believe, would further promote the ease of
doing business in the ports and the border posts

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