Following the recent allegation that foreigners have taken over the job of indigenous Customs licensed clearing and forwarding agents in Nigeria as well as the latest reports on the issue which further stated that these foreigners for self-cargo clearance at the nation’s seaports, the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) where the story originally cleared the air, saying that they not mean that these foreigners were licensed for self-clearance not as licensed customs clearing agents in Nigeria to take over the jobs of local operators.
Making this clarification on Tuesday at the monthly roundtable of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Apapa, Lagos the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Musa Jubrin said, foreigners were issued licenses to clear their goods at the ports on self-clearance basis not as a customs licensed clearing agents.
The Apapa CAC who was represented at the event by the Officer In charge of Customs Processing Unit (CPU), O/C Mutar Yahaya urther said that so far these foreign companies are legally registered in Nigeria to operate,they have the right to operate.
”The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) (Nigerian laws) have allowed foreigners to come and establish companies in Nigeria that can do that.
So, since they have been allowed to establish companies in Nigeria, they can clear their goods from the ports. And since most of the companies in Nigeria are owned by these foreign companies, they can clear their goods from the ports, right? They are owned by them. So if they own companies that government has allowed to be established”, why would they not be allowed to clear theIr goods from the ports for their own companies?,” he queried.
The CAC’s representative (Yahaya), who further stated that based on his knowledge these foreigners are clearing their goods at the ports based on the power given to them by the Nigerian government and that it is what is happening at the moment in Nigeria.
”So, definitely, and based on my knowledge, this is what is happening at the moment.
The CAC’s representative equally acknowledged that though such laws, privilleges or practices does not exist elsewhere except in our country Nigeria. ”But I know that it does not happen elsewhere.”
While giving a clearer picture on the issue, the newly promoted command’s Public Relationship Officer (PRO), Deputy Superintendent of Customs (DSC), Nkeiru Nwala further highlighted that ”what I want you (the newsmen ) to understand is that they are only licensed for self-cargo clearance of their goods. They are not licensed as customs licensed clearing and forwarding agents in Nigeria.”
On whether there is any difference between self clearance and a licensed customs clearance, the Apapa premier command’s image maker said that ”yes, the difference between the two is that you can be an importer without being a customs licensed agent. If you imports goods, you are going to engage the services of a customs licensed agent to do the clearing for you. Majority of them are not the people doing the clearing and forwarding, at the end, they give them to Nigerian to do for them.”
The PRO however, noted that the command’s CAC has at the recent visit of the MARAN exco’s visit to the command clarified the issue but was only misquoted ”you have the Nigeria licensed customs agents following up the consignments for them. Not that they are coming like clearing agents licensed by the Nigeria customs, No. They are two different things. That was why the CAC frowned at the earlier reports on the issue. He did not say foreigners have been licensed as customs licensed agents,” the Apapa image maker added.