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Amid border closure, Customs generates N1.56tr in 2020

By Sulaimon Salau
07 January 2021   |   3:04 am
Closure of the land borders notwithstanding, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) remitted N1.56 trillion into the Federal Government coffers in 2020.

An aerial picture on December 17, 2020 shows a part of the Benin-Nigerian border city of Krake, one day after Nigeria announced the lifting of borders’ closure. – Nigeria is lifting the closure of borders with neighbouring Benin and Niger which it imposed in 2019 to curb smuggling of rice and other commodities, the government said on December 16, 2020. The closure had a major impact on Benin, a key exporter of foodstuffs to Africa’s most populous country via its port of Cotonou. (Photo by Yanick Folly / AFP)

Govt to deploy 135 new scanners at entry points

Closure of the land borders notwithstanding, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) remitted N1.56 trillion into the Federal Government coffers in 2020.

The Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, in a statement yesterday, said the amount was buoyed by port revenue, as the decision compelled cargoes to fully patronise the seaports.

He said the service overshot its N1.38 trillion target and the N1.34 trillion it made in 2019.

Ali said the feat followed resoluteness and adaptation in the face of the global health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CG stated that the partial border closure, which forced ships that could have been smuggled through the porous gateways to come through the sea and airports, resulting in improving income.

He also linked the impressive result to the strategic deployment of officers in line with the standard operating procedure; strict enforcement of extant guidelines by the tariff and trade department and automation of processes to check underhand activities.

Prior to the commencement of the border drill on August 20, 2019, the agency’s revenue hovered around N4 billion and N5 billion but now rakes in between N5 billion and N9 billion daily.

Ali said diplomatic engagements that took place during the closure yielded a number of positive results, including a commitment to comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit and Operationalisation of joint border patrols at both sides of the boundary.

The teams, according to him, are to share intelligence and forestall the movement of prohibited goods.

He expressed the service’s readiness to faithfully implement the outcome of the engagements as the borders reopen for economic activities.

The Customs boss added that the intelligence gathered during the period and the introduction of e-Customs, whose components include installation of scanners at all entry points, would enhance border security and boost trade.

Ali hinted that the Ministry of Finance had purchased three new scanners, while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would buy four others and establish a control centre for monitoring of all scanning sites to enhance the economy, especially the agriculture sector.

He went on: “This means that within the next six months, NCS will have about seven functional scanners to be mounted at strategic entry points even before the full deployment of e-Customs components which will see to the deployment of 135 modern scanners.

“NCS appreciates and commends the leadership of CBN for this strategic intervention in the interest of the nation.

“In the same vein, the service’s efforts to prevent the entry of items that could compromise the security of our citizens, economy, and well-being of our people resulted in the seizures of 4,304 assorted items with a paid duty value of N28.28 billion.

“These seizures included arms, ammunition, illicit drugs, used clothing, vegetable oil, frozen poultry, and foreign rice.”