The Apapa Area Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Musa Jibrin, says the clamour by licensed customs agents for the indigenization of clearance of cargoes at Nigerian ports may not be achieved anytime soon.
Jubrin said this while addressing the executive of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) during a courtesy visit to his office in Lagos on Monday.
The Comptroller said most of the companies operating in the country were owned by foreigners and that the Customs had provided them with licenses for self-clearance.
According to him, the essence of the Ease-of-Doing-Business policy of the Federal Government is to make the environment friendly for investors as Nigeria is competing for foreign direct investment with other countries.
He explained that any company could be given self-clearance and that it was the prerogative of such company to decide who to send to process their customs documentation.
The Customs boss added that the law also had a provision for an importer to hire a Customs agent to clear a consignment.
Speaking on the ongoing construction of wharf road leading to Lagos port, the Comptroller assured that the completion of the road would lead to increase in economic activities for the good of the nation.
According to him, the command now conducts joint cargo examination with other relevant government agencies and issues joint reports for the release of cargoes.
He said with the implementation of the Customs Information Integration System (NICIIS) 2, it was no longer cumbersome for importers to secure the release of their consignments from the port.
“NICIIS 2 intended to encourage compliance with government fiscal policies; it is also for every stakeholder to be on the same platform with customs, to embrace full automation,” said Jubrin.
In his response, President of MARAN, Mr Anya Njoku, stressed the need for Customs to preserve the jobs of Nigerian clearing agents, noting that foreigners had taken over their jobs.
Njoku also said there was need for the Customs Service to issue clearing licenses to individuals and not corporate bodies.
According to him, it is the corporate bodies that perpetrate most of the crimes in the clearance process.