The Nigeria Customs Service will soon adopt a new initiative, Authorised Economic Operator programme (AEO) to plug the loopholes exploited by unscrupulous people engaged in the importation of light weapons and other prohibited products.
The AEO is a programme introduced by the World Customs Organisation in conjunction with National Customs Administration to facilitate safe and secure trade across international borders.
The AEO is a platform that tracks trustworthy and transparent of importers and makes honesty in transactions a major prerequisite for becoming an AEO operator.
Also among the requirements to qualify as an AEO operator include being an economic operator and part of the supply chain, having a record of compliance with Customs legislation and taxation rules and having no record of serious criminal offences relating to economic activities.
In addition, an applicant must have operated in the country for three years and above without any problem with the relevant authorities in the country.
Qualifying as an AEO operator entitles the importer to a waiver of the rules on import supervision. Manufacturers and major importers with established track record of compliance with extant rules and payment of approved import duties are expected to be the first line beneficiaries of the new programme.
The Comptroller General of the NCS, Col. Hameed Ali, (rtd), stated this at a one-day sensitisation workshop in the Apapa Port Area Command of the service.
Ali who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller General of Customs on Strategic Research and Planning, Patience Iferi, pointed out that the involvement of stakeholders in the AEO programme was important, adding that it would facilitate global trade as being carried out in other parts of the world.
According to him, getting involved in the programme will help stakeholders to trade internationally rather than being limited to local trade.
“If Uganda, a very small country in terms of population and size, can celebrate and embrace the AEO, why should Nigeria, the giant of Africa, not boast of the AEO?” he queried.
Also speaking, the AEO team Leader for Zone A, Mark Lina, noted that the increase in volume of trade among countries and the changing trends in supply chain made it imperative for Customs administration to review the role of the body in international trade and sensitise the business community to the need for the AEO.
Meanwhile, the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the NCS has announced the seizure of over 10 trailers of foreign parboiled rice smuggled into the country from neighbouring countries.
The command also disclosed that it had impounded 59 brand new vehicles worth over N1.1 billion smuggled into the country.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Wednesday, the Customs Area Controller of the unit, Muhammed Uba, put the worth of the 6,206 bags of rice found in the 10 trailers at N69 million.
He said that “between October 4 and December 31, 2017, the unit intercepted various contraband goods, which include 6,206 bags of foreign parboiled rice of 50kg each, which is more than 10 trailers.
“Also, based on intelligence report, our operatives trailed and impounded 59 assorted vehicles from car marts in Ikoyi among which are over 40 cars of 2017 models, ranging from Toyota Prado jeeps, Lexus jeeps, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Camry, Coaster bus to Toyota Hiace bus.
“They are currently under detention awaiting relevant Customs documents from the dealers within the period of one month. Some are even bulletproof, which require end users certificates from the office of the National Security Adviser.”
Uba also said that another 67 bales of used clothing, 600 cartons of foreign poultry and 24 parcels of Indian hemp were also seized by the unit.
“Similarly, two containers were also seized for contravening Customs laws. One of the containers carried used fridges, 270 cartons of refined Sun Flower oil, 55 pieces of used gas compressors, 18 packs of juice and other assorted items as against cooking gas declared in the Single Goods Declaration form.
“The other container was carrying 147 bales of printed wax and 168 bales of lace material as against new electronics declared in the SGD. These containers were seized for carrying contraband and entered under false declaration in order to beat the system.”