The Nigeria Customs Service has directed that any consignment duly released at the terminals should no longer be subjected to Customs cross examination at the exit gate.
A circular issued by the Officer in Charge, Customs Intelligence Unit, Tin Can Island command, Suleiman Bomoi, confirmed this.
The Customs regularly cross examines goods at the exit gate upon receiving alerts from colleagues inside the terminals of suspected infraction on the part of the importers.
The Public Relations Officer, NCS Tin Can Island command, Uche Ejesieme, explained that the unit decided to halt the cross examination to facilitate trade at the ports and promote the ease of doing business in line with the vision of the Federal Government.
He said, “In line with our efforts to align with the presidential directive on ease of doing business, the OC of the CIU, Bomoi directed that all cargoes duly released from the terminals should no longer be subjected to cross examination at the point of exit.
“This is to ensure that all areas of bureaucracy and cumbersomeness are removed. As Customs officials, we have the responsibility to ensure that we don’t just key into the mandate on ease of doing business but are seen to be driving it.”
Ejesieme added that the Customs Area Controller, Tin Can Island command, Bashar Yusuf, was strongly in support of the directive.
Asked whether the directive would not defeat the purpose of thorough examination of cargoes by the Customs, the PRO said that it would not.
“It is expected that all officers at the terminals had done their examination with every amount of thoroughness, leaving no room for cross examination when the consignment gets to the gate.
“The emphasis for officers now is thoroughness. When you are sure that you have examined the consignment very well, once it comes out, you don’t have to send alert anymore.”
The Chairman, Tin Can Island chapter of the International Freight Forwarders Association, Ojo Akintoye, expressed relief at the development.
He reportedly said that the issue of cross examination of goods at the gate had always posed challenges to trade facilitation while creating room for extortion by officers at the gate.