By Steve Agbota
The Vice-President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, has accused the officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for using various tariffs on imported vehicles to extort importers and victimised clearing agents at the ports.
Farinto, who disclosed this to newsmen last week in Apapa while reflecting on the need to get justice for a young Customs agent recently shot by an officer of the NCS, said that absence of implementing uniform tariff on imported vehicles fuelling criminal acts and corruption among the officers of Customs at the port.
He alleged that the officers are deliberately frustrating the process of having uniform tariff because of their selfish interests even when the Controller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), had approved it in a recent meeting with stakeholders, adding that the Customs are sabotaging Ease of Doing Business of the Federal Government for imposing arbitrary charges on importers and clearing agents.
According to him, all efforts to make Nigeria Customs Service to key into Ghana’s Customs uniform tariff on imported vehicles have always hit the rock.
“I have on several occasions begged the management of NCS to give us uniform tariff on vehicles. Nigerians need to know for instance, we have 2009 Camry, one at PTML, one at Tin Can Island and one at Apapa Port. These vehicles despite the fact that they have the same year of manufacture, we never pay the same value just because we have arbitrariness of duty.
“We have received many complaints from our members over the arbitrariness of tariff on vehicles and we met with the management of Customs to give us uniform value. Ghana is an example, we even told them this that we are ready to sponsor Customs officers to Ghana and study their uniform tariff.
“In Ghana, what they do is that if you have any vehicles, what you have to do is to input your VIN into the system because with your VIN number, you cannot lie as par year of manufacture. Once you input you VIN number it brings out the history of the vehicle, then you can now apply for appropriate rate,” he said.
He lamented that present management of NCS is paying lips service to the issue of uniform tariff and they didn’t want to come out with a uniform value.
“I have it on good authority that the Comptroller General of Customs has directed that there should be uniformity of value but this has not been implemented. We are tired of an arbitrary value, we are tired of giving bribes,” he said.
However, he chided the National Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Deputy Controller, Joseph Attah, for describing the agents shot by officer of the Service as miscreant, saying that the national PRO goofed for making such statement.