Acting comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service Bashir Adewale Adeniyi has said stiff punishment will be meted out on violators of the new Customs Act. It provides for the reform of the administration and management of Customs and excise. The focus is on improper exportation of goods.
The CG gave the warning during a sensitisation workshop at a two-day ‘Sensitisation Workshop on the Nigeria Customs Service Act, NCSA, 2023’. The workshop was organized for members of the Nigeria Customs management.
Speaking to participants at the workshop yesterday in Abuja, Adeniyi expressed excitement on the fact that the Act is punitive enough for violations of customs laws.
“Criminals are always willing to commit fraud, because they know that they’re going to get a slap on the wrist. So what this law has brought are very, very heavy, punitive sanctions. That should deter people from committing those violations against the customs law,” he said.
“At the risk of leaking out our plans, I would tell you that one of the things that I intend to do, as we start, will be to take a look at our procedures, processes and the parks in the border areas, our enforcement strategies. We are going to review all of that and we want to do it in such a way that they promote user friendliness and also promote economic growth without compromising national security.”
Stating that the NCS has been statutorily empowered to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act, Adeniyi said, “We can now also Collect and account for revenue from Customs and Excise among others. Also, our Service will be able to promote trade facilitation, prevent smuggling activities and carry out border enforcement.”
In his keynote address, former House of Representative committee chairman on Customs, Leke Abejide said the reforms introduced by the new Act have tremendous effect on every facet of the nation’s economy and also the officers’ career progression with some enhanced level of professionalism and job motivation which has hitherto been deprived of the service.
“This new legislation further marks a significant milestone in our efforts to streamline Customs procedures, enhance trade facilitation, and foster a conducive environment for economic growth and development,” Abejide stated.
He said some of the reforms injected into the Nigerian Customs Act 2023 are focused on enhancement of trade facilitation, which has upgraded the status of the service to a 21st century strategic revenue generating institution. “This institution shall in the shortest period reap the dividends of this legal framework that gear up the ease of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.
Abejide maintained that for the first time since the inception of the service, the idea to always go cap in hand for finances in order to perform its lawful and statutory duties is now a thing of the past with the introduction of section 18 of the Act; the Act provides for a sum not less than 4% of the Free-On-Board value of imports according to international best practice as part of the funds the service shall keep and maintain for its operation.
The new law empowers Customs to superintend over its budget line items which cost 10 per cent or less of the entire capital budget under review. This makes it faster for the Service to be able to implement their capital projects as quickly as possible to enhance the performance of officers in service delivery.
“This implies that only projects of which value is above 10 per cent of the total capital projects of the year under review will require Federal Executive Council approval.
“It is to be noted that this sum is not cast on stone as it can be upgraded as the need arises by a proposal to that effect by the President to the National Assembly, and accordingly by appropriation put through Budget presentation on Customs Service matters.”
“It is our expectation that the Service would live to its responsibility of tapping new revenue areas, ensuring that duties and levies evading techniques by criminal-minded persons are restricted to the barest minimum level so that targeted revenue avenues would be harnessed,” Abejide said in expectation that the new law enhance trade facility and other functions of the NCS.