The Nigeria Customs Service, Area II Command, Onne Port, Rivers State has joined Customs formations all over the World to mark the 2024, International Customs Day.
Speaking at the event, weekend in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Baba Imam stated that the theme for the year 2024, “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose” was chosen to highlight the importance of collaboration and cooperation between customs administrations, International organizations, private sector entities and other stakeholders.
He went further to posit that “by joining forces with both traditional and new partners, customs agencies can enhance their effectiveness in promoting trade facilitation, combating illicit trade, and supporting sustainable development.”
On Area 11, Command, he further maintained that traditional partners, such as NPA, security/border and law enforcement agencies, regulatory authorities, shipping lines, customs agents, terminal operators, road transport workers even the press, have continued to be vital in ensuring customs operations run smoothly emphasizing that collaboration with these partners allows customs to share information, intelligence, and best practices, leading to coordinated efforts in addressing legitimate trade and other transnational threats such as smuggling.
Speaking further, he added that the Command would enhance its risk management capabilities, streamline processes and improve overall operational efficiency by leveraging the expertise of those traditional partners.
“However, in today’s interconnected world, the Command needs to engage with new partners to stay ahead of the curve and respond effectively to evolving challenges as they arise”, he said.
In the area of revenue generation, the Customs Area Controller stated that the command was given a target of N336 billion for the year 2023 and that as of December 31 2023, the Command was able to collect N313 billion which according to him, accounted for 93% of the annual target.
He noted that the amount surpassed the 2022 collection by N71 billion and represented 30% increase over the 2022 generated revenue.
He added “As at today, Friday, 26 January 2024 the Command has collected ₦31,496,276,576.00 which is above the 2023 January collection of ₦20,130,775,598.08, with five days left to the end of this month.
In export, He said that a total of 1,929,121.22 Metric tonnes of goods with a free on board (FOB) value of $10,188,252,603.24 which is equivalent to ₦9,456,575,171,918.20 was processed through the Command in 2023, and a total of ₦2,038,069,290.51 was recorded for Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme (NESS).
Imam, who applauded the leadership qualities of the Comptroller General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, vowed to leverage on his policy-driven leadership of commitment to ensuring consistency on stakeholders engagements and sustainability of such, which he said had ensured a friendly environment at Onne customs Area 11 Command.
Giving his goodwill message, the Port Manager, Nigerian Ports Authority, Onne ports Complex; Prince OC Zhattua said that his office is open for more collaboration insisting that without collaboration and synergy, nothing would be achieved.
“My office is open for not only Nigeria Customs Service but any other stakeholder who will add value to what we are doing.”
He praised Comptroller Imam for achieving much in his short period of time at Onne.
Speaking on behalf of the freight Forwarders, the Chairman Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) , Onne Seaport chapter, Mr. Mike Ebeatu said that he has seen a new crop of Customs officers, reiterating that a new paradigm shift has been witnessed in customs operations.
Highlighting more, Ebeatu said the inclusion of Freight Forwarders in the dispute Resolution as contained in the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 and its implementation by the Customs ( CGC) Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR needed commendation as according to him, such has ensured that agents do not see customs officers as enemies again.
“When we engage Customs, we don’t engage them as enemies again. Before it was like cat and dog relationship” Ebeatu emphasized.
“When there are issues we sit down with customs and resolve them amicably, I will ask my members are you satisfied? They will say yes.” That was the level of synergy and Collaboration the agents and customs were having today according to him.
Others present at the event included, representatives of Intels, Brawal shipping, NIMASA, Navy, operators of Bonded Terminals, WACT, NAGAFF among others.