Lawmakers condemn stopping of containers along ports corridor by Customs

The House of Representative Committee on Customs & Excise has condemned the continuous interception of already cleared containers along the ports access roads by operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, calling for an urgent amendment of the Customs and Excise Management (CEMA) Bill currently at the National Assembly.

The Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide, who spoke when the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, appeared before the House Committee to defend the NCS 2021 budget proposal recently in Abuja, said Customs appeared to be operating outside the law.

He said, “We need to amend the CEMA quickly because it’s like you are operating without law now. We need it to come so that we can amend it. FOU operatives stand at the gate of the port to intercept containers but I don’t think that is what the CEMA says. They are within the perimeters of the port. If they want to operate, it should be some 200km from the port but immediately after the gate of the port, they are there, and they position their vehicles.”

Abejide urged Customs to develop an electronic app with which genuine vehicle duty payment could be verified to avoid causing hardship to Nigerians and importers who had duly cleared their vehicles from the ports.

“You have to do something about this issue of disparity of duty payment and I will suggest you develop an app. Some of the importers have genuine papers but FOU still wants to get something because they are not inside the port. This is what we need to discourage and that is why we need to develop this app on time so that whoever pays correctly, even without going to the port, he knows he has paid correctly and nobody can ask him for anything. It is not that they will give to agents and agents will now reduce duty,” he said.

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