• Thursday, July 18, 2024
businessday logo


Customs moves to end illegal berthing, midstream discharge of cargo



Determined to stop illegal berthing of ships and cargoes outside official designated Customs’ port, Hameed Ali, comptroller general of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has directed officers and men of the service on strict enforcement of all relevant provisions of the extant laws of the NCS on ships and vessels that berth illegally outside Customs’ ports.

The directive, dated January 21, 2016 and sent to all deputy comptroller generals, assistant controller generals, zonal coordinators, area controllers, controllers of Federal Operations Units A-D and controllers of Excise and Western Marine Commands, was contained in a circular number EX./FZ/2016/001.

The circular, signed by Grace Adeyemo, deputy comptroller general, Excise, FTZ and Industrial Incentives on behalf of Ali, states that the directive followed intelligence reports that indicate some form of compromise by Customs’ officials.

“Intelligence reports reaching headquarters indicate some form of compromise by officers, where deliberate acts of impunity are perpetuated through illegal berthing of ships/vessels and mid-stream discharge of cargo other than officially designated Customs Ports despite existing circulars,” the circular reads.

Continuing, it states: “In effect, I am directed to reiterate and convey the comptroller-general of Customs’ directive on strict enforcement of the Extant Laws and circulars in that regard (Ref.S.12 (1) & (4) of the CEMA), which says that on no circumstance should any ship/vessel coming in from foreign, berth at any other place other than the conventional ports, first.”

According to the circular, “Where any of such ship/vessel is Free Zone bound or designate, it shall set sail thereafter under official escort of the Enforcement Unit of the Command for further official processes.

“You are further directed to enforce strictly all relevant provisions of the extant laws including S.26 of CEMA upon any encountered violation in that regard.’’

Reacting to the directive, Jonas Bankole, chairman, Nigerians against Theft in the Maritime Sector (NATIMS), described the directive as a savings grace for the Federal Government, which has vowed to check out all revenue leakages in order to raise the needed fund for development programmes.

Bankole said the directive showed that it would no longer be business as usual for port operators and shipping companies.