Customs Service says malpractices limiting trade facilitation

Nelson Ochai, Head of Export Desk, Apapa Customs Command

The Nigeria Customs Service has blamed some trade malpractice such as false declaration, under-declaration and over-valuation of goods as key reasons that combine to hinder trade facilitation.

Head of export desk at the Apapa Customs Command, Nelson Ochai, said this at a one –day seminar on ethics and integrity of trade,  organized recently in Lagos by the the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria(SON).
Ochai said there was need for attitudinal change among some traders who have decided to constitute a nuisance of themselves in the course of making declaration for the purpose of cargo clearance.
He said: “The main challenges are issues of false declaration, under-declaration and sometimes over-valuation of goods. It is now a common thing in Nigeria.

“There is need for attitudinal change in declaration, and in the issue of capital flight, particularly in export. People don’t want to do the right thing. They take consignment out but they don’t want it to follow the right channel, through the CBN account.”

Ochai referred to an occasion where a trader, after going through the examination process for export of cashew and given clearance, turned around to offload the container of the cashew and uploaded it with a helicopter.

He said that with intelligence report, the person in question was caught in the malpractice and made to face the law.

He, however, said that for compliant trader who are transparent with their declaration, the customs service continues to support them by placing them on the fast-track list where they do not waste time doing the cargo clearance procedures.

“The encouragement for compliant traders is that we put them on fast-track for clearance. From time to time, we do checks to ensure that those on fast track are still doing the right thing, and if there is any reason to doubt, they would be removed,” Ochai said.

He also bemoaned the issue of the perennial traffic gridlock as a factor that troubles trade facilitation.