The Nigeria Customs Service on Monday said it recorded 4,599 seizures of prohibited items worth N32.83bn in the 2019 fiscal period.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) said this at an event to celebrate the 2020 International Customs Day held at the headquarters of the NCS in Abuja.
The event is celebrated by all Customs community across the world.
Ali described the seizure of prohibited items comprising food, counterfeit and other items harmful to the environment as another remarkable contribution of the service to the economy.
He said, “The service has been passionate about the protection of national security and economy on the discharge of its functions.”
“Our modest achievements in 2019 were the collection of the historic N1.34tn revenue; the seizure of prohibited articles of trade comprising food, counterfeits and others harmful to our environment valued at N32.83bn during 4,599 incidents in 2019. This is another remarkable contribution of the NCS.”
Ali also said the service intercepted illicit cash flows through the nation’s airports, adding that the economy had started seeing the positive impact of the closure of the border.
The Customs CG said the border closure had opened up more opportunities in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors of the economy.
When asked what was delaying the reopening of the border, the CG said that strategies were still being perfected for the border reopening.
He said, “We are still working with them (neighbouring countries). There are some parameters and we have reached certain understanding through so many refining of some of those things (understanding).”
“We need a process and a situation whereby our border is secure and we are guaranteed that the menace that we are experiencing in our border will no longer be there.”
“We are working on those parameters and I believe that as soon as we begin to get to them, we will relax certain things at the borders.”
“But for now, we are still conducting our partial border closure under the drill and we are expecting that not too long from now when we get responsive adherence from our own neighbours, we will see how we can work together to fortify our borders.”
“We are not only talking about Nigeria; we are also asking them to ensure that their own borders are fortified against illicit activities.”
On the digitalisation of the operations of Customs, the CG said that within the next two years, the process would be concluded.
He said through the digitalisation project, all aspects of the operations of Customs that had to do with administration, payments, border management, export and import processing would be automated.
Ali warned that any member of the service that was not knowledgeable in computer processes would be asked to leave the service.
He said, “We had not too long ago, the approval of Mr President on the e-customs project and this is our digital platform that is all encompassing.”
“It has to do with administration, payments, border management and of course our main task of export and import processing.”
“So, it is our hope that once that platform is put in place in the next one and a half years, latest by two years, every activity in the Customs will be paperless.”
In his speech at the event, the Secretary General, World Customs Organisation, Dr Kunio Mikuriya, said there was a need to reduce trade barriers to foster economic prosperity.
His speech was delivered by the Deputy Comptroller-General, Strategic Research and Policy, Ronke Olubiyi.
He said the practice and methods of Customs should be aligned with the WCO’s tools and instruments of economic competitiveness.