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Hameed Ali’s Comments on WTO, ACFTA: Customs replies Emeka Akabogu

Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali

The attention of Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to a gross misinterpretation of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) on his presentation at the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance.

A write-up by a supposed learned personality on Maritime matters, going viral on social media unfortunately misrepresented the CGC’s position on Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement erroneously misinforming the public that the CGC is against the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement/Facilitation, because it will affect revenue collection.

On the contrary, the CGC’s position was in support of increased local production for the nation to benefit from the forthcoming ACFTA. He explained the implications of ACFTA on revenue, stating that all imports from member countries will be duty free hence the nation must encourage local production and Excise duty rather than Import duty which will drastically drop soon.

He clearly said “I would rather collect Excise duty than Import duty, because for every import, you are taking money out”.

As clear and emphatic as he was at the public hearing on preference for excise over import. It is hard to understand the reason(s) for this twist and dangerous misrepresentation.
In a statement by Customs spokesman, Joseph Attah, the Service explained that
Mr Akobogu’s attempt to link CG’s comments at the public hearing to issues of scanners, partial border closure and ending with almost recommending single window system as a viable means of growing Customs revenue collection shows a total loss of the understanding of CGC’s presentation. “He obviously does not know that the amended Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) has not been passed into law and seems not to be aware that NCS is not the procuring agent for new scanners, hence cannot be linked to any amount he quoted in relation to scanners.

” It is almost laughable to appear to recommend a bit of ICT to an organization whose processes are mostly automated and was informing the Senate Committee about the readiness of the Service to commence end to end e-Customs.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the statement further explained that “the CGC and indeed NCS is not against the implementation of any protocol that Nigeria is a signatory. NCS role is to implement and provide input that might help policy formation in the interest of Nigerians”,he said.

According to Attah,” we strongly believe that Nigerians have a right to know the implications of ACFTA and actions that must be taken to benefit from it and not becoming a dumping ground for other countries’ goods” , he further explained. Attah accused Mr Akabogu of “Twisting” and giving it a different narrative relating to Import duty was not only dangerous but mischievous.

The Nigeria Customs Service, therefore call on Nigerians to discountenance that misleading piece and focus on what we must do to benefit from ACFTA.