By Innocent Orok
The Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service has remained resilient in the face of a general downturn in the economy when it overshot its 2023 revenue target by 14.6 %.
During the 2023 fiscal year, the command collected a princely sum of N1. 172 trillion, which is N149.8bn above the revenue collection Of N1,022,530,523,699.40 in 2022.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Chief Superintendent of Customs ( CSC) Usman Abubakar, the command’s spokesman, while reviewing the activities of the flagship command in 2023.
He said the command lived up to its mandate by ensuring an enabling trading environment for the trading public which comprises importers, exporters, shipping companies, terminal operators, and bonded warehouses.
According to the report, the command made an N11.3b daily collection on November 22, 2023, which is the highest daily collection recorded in the history of the NCS. In the same vein, the command recorded N145b revenue collection in October 2023 which represented the highest monthly revenue collection by any Customs command.
In the area of anti-smuggling within the period under review, the command made 54 seizures with a Duty Paid Value of N22,847,295,900.
These seizures were made due to infractions like contravention of extant import /export prohibition list, false declaration, unlawful concealment and others.A breakdown of the seizures comprises prohibited items such as used clothing, foreign parboiled rice, vegetable oil, tomato paste, among others.
The statement said the Customs Area Controller of the Apapa Command, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba has sounded a note of warning to smugglers and traders involved in any form of illegality that Apapa Port is a no-go area as any attempt to test the resolve of his officers will be met with seizure of their wares, arrest and prosecution with the Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCSA)2023.
The statement said “The Controller, since he assumed office, has ensured stronger collaboration with sister government agencies like the NPA, police, NDLEA, NAFDAC, DSS, NAQS, Port Health Service, and others in the area.”
According to him, “We understand the dynamic nature of maritime-related crimes and have resolved to keep working together while trying to think ahead of criminal elements who may want to use Apapa Port.
” The collaboration has yielded gains in our individual services and ensuring Apapa port remains safe for port users”.
The CAC, since assumption of office, has ensured that various stakeholders like importers, exporters, licensed customs agents, freight forwarding operators and other port users are being regularly educated on the need to be compliant at all times.”
He reiterated that the command operates an open-door policy where he meets regularly with stakeholders to address matters of common interest.The dispute resolution, query and amendment seats have been made more active to address the needs and legitimate demands of port users too.
The Controller also urged compliant traders to keep up their good deeds while advising others to emulate the virtue of honesty,noting that integrity is key to the achievement of 48-hour cargo clearance.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba therefore solicited the support of every player in the port system, including, terminal operators, clearing/forwarding agents,and shipping companies towards the achievement of 48hrs cargo clearance.
“It is achievable in no distant time if we all play our roles effectively” Controller declared. He said the command was ready to facilitate legitimate trade and contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth.
“As we begin the new year, the command is urging port users to always make sincere declarations, keep themselves abreast with import and export prohibitions with a view to abiding by them and paying their customs duties at all times.
He thanked the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi and his Management Team for providing the command with the enabling environment to discharge its duties effectively.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba also expressed his appreciation to officers and men of the Command for their relentless efforts as well as the stakeholders and members of the media for their unwavering support.
He believed that together” we have recorded great strides in blocking areas of revenue leakage and ensuring Apapa Port remains a shining example among its peers in Nigeria and the West African subregion”.