The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday scrapped the Customs Governing Board, and replaced it with a service commission, which shall be headed by a chairman, who would be a retired career Comptroller-General or Deputy Comptroller-General, and who shall be appointed by the President for a period of four years.
The Senate further passed the Repeal and Re-enactment Bill, 2017 of the Nigeria Customs Service Management Act, ensuring that the appointment of the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, would now be subject to its confirmation, with one renewable tenure.
The commission would be responsible for managing policies of the NCS or matters pertaining to administration, assessment, collection and accounting for revenues, as may be directed by the Minister of Finance from time to time. The new bill also said the commission would be responsible for managing all issues relating to employment, training, welfare, and discipline of officers of the NCS, with the approval of the appropriate authority of the Federal Government.
On the appointment of the C-G, section 13 of the Bill made it very clear that only a person who is serving in the Customs service would be qualified to be so appointed.
The section read in part: “The President shall appoint from the Customs Service, subject to the confirmation of the Senate, a Comptroller-General who shall be responsible for the over all management of the Customs Service.’’
“The Customs C-G shall execute the policies and decisions of the commission”.
The passage of the bill followed clause by clause debate and discussions on the report by the Senate Committee on Customs and Excise presented by the Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West), consolidating into a single reference document, the NCS legal authority, which is scattered in multiple enactment, and to bring the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1958, in line with modern day reality and international best practices.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma (Imo West), explained that the service would also be financed from a seven percent cost of collection of import duty, excise and fees, special levies, revenues derived from assessment and collection of cost based user fees, and from budgetary provisions.
He said: “The new bill will substantially enhance revenue generation and facilitate trade through full implementation of modern customs procedures that will evolve consistent, transparent and predictable environment for international trade, in line with internally accepted norms and practices.”
Uzodinma noted that the bill would also ensure pre-shipment and post-shipment inspection at point of origin, and destination, to reduce incidence of import of dangerous items.
“It strengthens the full implementation of pre-shipment laws of the country through the provisions for screening as a prerequisite for clearing goods into the country.
‘’It will not only adds to the expedited clearing system, but also empirically improve the security of the nation by minimizing the unfettered access into the country of illicit goods, prohibited narcotics, proliferation of small arms and toxic cargoes”, he added.
The bill also contains provisions to support the use of modern Information Technology (IT) platforms and systems, such as the use of electronic documents, signatures and electronic payment, as well as application of risk management and a host of other IT related issues.