APAPA CUSTOMS: Comptroller Olomu’s Trajectory to Collect N2.3Trillion Revenue Target, Facilitate Legitimate Trade

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By Innocent Orok

The Apapa Customs Command being regarded as the Flagship Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, is also the revenue hub for the Service. This means that, the NCS and the Federal government looks up to the Command as first among equals in churning out revenue and other trade facilitation tools for the country. It also means that any Customs personnel posted to head the Command must have been a tested, trusted, professional and goal getter in the business of international trade facilitation, revenue collection, policy implementation and anti-smuggling feats. As well as national security and stakeholders inter play.

No doubt, the NCS has never failed in its duty of deploying seasoned and tested officers to head the Command in the past. It is on this trajectory that the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, a month ago redeployed Comptroller Babatunde Olomu, a cool, calm, but very intelligent and rugged officer to man the Flagship Command.

As a man who knows he is wearing a very big shoe and the expectation is very high, Babatunde Olomu, has expressed confidence in the ability of the Command to meet its 2024 revenue target of N2. 3trillion.

Comptroller Olomu, who assumed duties at the command a month ago, is therefore consolidating on the achievements of his predecessor, retired Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, who bowed out of the Service in May, 2024.

According to Comptroller Olomu, the command, under his leadership, has embarked on a number of measures to further consolidate the achievements of his predecessor in order to take the revenue performance of the command to the next level.

Towards this, the command has set a monthly, weekly and daily revenue targets for its revenue officers to energise them towards meeting the N2. 3trillion 2024 target.

Roamrepporters online gathered that the sum of N193 billion was set as a monthly target, N44 billion as weekly target and N8.9 billion as a daily target.The CAC met a template for enhanced revenue collection which he is now building on.

Record shows that the first quarter of the year, before he assumed duties, the command surpassed its target for that period. While in the month of April, it generated N182 billion, in May, the revenue dropped due to some challenges as it collected N175 billion. However, Comptroller Olomu is ambitious as he has set a target of N200 billion for the month of June.

An authority in the command has said “We are seriously working towards this target and we are confident of achieving it due to the diligence and dedication of our revenue officers who are constantly being kept on their toes by the CAC and the Headquarters” a source close to the crack revenue team of the command, whispered to our reporter.

” We have plugged a lot of revenue leakages and made a lot of interventions which keep our revenue increasing.We do all these without impeding trade as we do everything to facilitate genuine transactions by compliant traders”.

” We know the high propensity of an average Nigerian trader to evade duty payment. So we do a lot of scanning and physical examinations without necessarily compromising trade facilitation.

” Because of our diligence and thoroughness in checking declarations and consignments through the use of non-intrusive technology( scanning) and physical examinations, non-compliant traders are not comfortable.

“As a result, some of them resort to blackmail and all sorts of antics to compromise and dampen the morale of our revenue officers without success” an inside source declared.

” We raised a lot of queries on suspicious consignments but without wasting time to ensure that importers and their agents make honest declarations. So, a compliant trader has no reason to be apprehensive at the command”, the source said.

It was also gathered that to further boost fast delivery of cargo to decongest the terminals and at the same time, reduce traffic gridlock on the port access road, Comptroller Olomu has initiated a programme that will encourage the maximum use of barges to evacuate cargoes from the port.

” The CAC is desirous of encouraging the use of barges. To this end, he has commenced an engagement with barge operators and terminal operators to enhance the use of barges.

” In addition, he wanted to co-opt other commands at the Lagos port into the initiative” a source stated.

On the issue of alerts on cargoes, the command said it was a means of flagging any cargo whose owner either wants to evade payment of duties or engage in under payment.

” A compliant trader has no cause for worry as there’s no alert without justification because an average Nigerian does not want to pay tax.

The command also clarified the issue of scanning which has evoked some negative reactions in some quarters, especially among non-compliant traders.

” It is the system that randomly selects containers meant for scanning.There is no way our scanning officers could influence containers that will go to the scanning site.

” This is impracticable due to the volume of containers they are supposed to scan daily which are between 150 – 200.
There won’t be time to subject any of such container to physical examinations given the volume of containers they are to scan each day.

“Non-instructive inspection (scanning) is the best technology we have all over the world. But some Nigerians are aversed to this type of technology that will not allow them to cut corners because of their high propensity to evade payment of duties”, our reporter was told.

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