Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hamed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) has vowed to fight corruption within the Service warning that he will not spare any officer including importers and agents involved in corrupt practices.
Ali who is currently on a tour of the Lagos port read the riot act On Monday, October 12, at a meeting held with stakeholders at the Apapa Command noting that any agent involved in false declaration risks five year jail term.
The Customs boss also vowed to review some key promotions, postings and welfare packages of Customs officers.
He said he was determined to key into the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the Nigeria Customs Service even as he reiterated his mandate to reform, restructure and increase revenue generation for the Service.
The customs boss, who said he would enforce the Customs extant law concerning false declaration, stressed that days of corruption in customs were over as both the giver and receiver are both liable.
While appealing to the trading public to adhere strictly to extant laws and regulations, Ali said when agents follow trade rules and apply them, most of the problems associated with delays in clearance of goods at the port will be eliminated.
“My mandate is very clear: reform, restructure and increase revenue generation. Where there is no law and order, it is chaos and where there is chaos, there will be no progress.
“If we follow the laws and apply them, 99 percent of our problem will not be there. I am strict in the execution of law. That is my background. I am a military officer for 27 years so I know what it is to enforce law. But that is not what I want but for you to abide by the laws.
“We have discovered that some of you do cut corners. We being in this business of making sure that the right duty is paid at the right time will ensure that corners are not cut.
“I have told my fellow colleagues in Customs that days of corruption are gone. Nobody will be caught giving or receiving that will go scot-free. Both the giver and taker are all liable,” he said.
The stakeholders pleaded with the Customs boss to address the faulty scanners at the port as most of them have been grounded.
They also appeal to him to use his office to reach the President to ease some of its policies especially on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forex restriction to importers which they said has affected volume of goods imported into the country.
Some of the stakeholders present also urged the Customs boss to focus on facilitation of trade and address the problem of incessant ‘alerts’ issued on cleared cargoes by Customs operatives.
By Pita Ochai