The Vice President of the Association of the Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, has raised the alarm that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) may fuel the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in the maritime industry.
Farinto in a chat with journalists last week warned that if there is an outbreak of the novel corona virus in the maritime sector, Customs should be held responsible.
According to him, the failure of the Service to invoke section 28 and 29 of the Customs Excise and Management Act, which give Customs the power to invoke the ‘Bill of Sight’ especially at a time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic is disturbing.
He said the Bill of Sight will help reduce human contact at ports and prevent possible outbreak of the pandemic in the maritime industry and the entire country at large. He added: “The Bill of Sight is a form of entry at the custom house by which goods respecting which the importer is not possessed of full documentation may be provisionally landed for examination.”
Farinto lamented that despite letters written to the Secretary General of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd.), Customs has failed to invoke the law, describing the customs hierarchy as set of confused people.
“If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the maritime industry, the NCS should be held responsible, we are in a period of war and we suggested that let us to invoke Section 28 and 29 of the CEMA law which says that let us use Bill of Sight. “This means If this man is an importer he has a bill of lading he may not need to go through the process of obtaining a PAAR or Form M, he can go to wherever his cargo is and position the cargo for examination. The valuation unit and all the various unit will look at the examination and the valuation unit will give him a duty to pay and he can leave with the cargo as soon as he pays,” he said.