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Maritime: Federal House Of Reps Committee On Customs Visits Port Harcourt

The Federal House Representatives Committee on Customs has visited Area 2 Command, Rivers State as part of their over sight functions. The meeting which commenced at 1pm on the 29th of January, 2013, had the presence of the host, Mohammed Mogaji, Customs Area Comptroller CAC, Area 2 Command, Onne.

He introduced his colleague, Dr. Agbaje, D.O., Area Comptroller General ACG in charge of Zone C, Port Harcourt, and his command management team; before the formal introduction of the House Committee Deputy Chairman, Hon. O. Chinda and his committee members.

In his opening remarks, Mogaji officially welcomed the House Committee on Customs on behalf of the Comptroller General of Customs CGC, Abdulahi D.I. and wished them a happy stay and deliberation.

It was disclosed at the meeting that the command as a unique port that is in charge of Oil &Gas Free Zone operations in addition to conventional importation, made a total revenue of #77,591,040,859.08 against the revenue of #70,833,328,943.52 in 2011.

Mogaji, highlighted challenges facing the command as it relates to the operation of service providers: Webb-Fountain and SGS as follows: as an established fact that Nigeria  Customs Service  Port Harcourt Area 2 Command is run on generator service, one provided by Webb- Fountain which provides  power to the customs processing center  CPC and the service room while the second generator, provided by the Nigeria  Customs Service  serves other administrative and operational offices.

Consequently, he noted that the connectivity of the command to the Customs National Server has never been 24/7. A serious challenge to provide 48 hours cargo clearance due to ageing equipment for effective interface.

Mogaji opined that the appeal for extension of server time of operation was yet to be implemented, affirming that some unutilized RARs were discovered mainly through systems audit due to duplication for some individual importers.

He told that the committee that system audit frequently conducted by the CPC has revealed a lot of discrepancies in terms of dishonest declaration which leads to issuance of many queries and additional assessments through post entry modification to recover government revenue.

He stated further that the inability to view documents and allow access to the manufacture of the Gantry Scanner that will enhance the performance of officers; has not been put in place by Webb- Fountain.

Consequently, the House Committee Deputy Chairman on Customs, Hon. O. Chinda, said that their major reason for visiting the command was to inspect the service provide and their facilities, so as to evaluate the services they render to Nigeria Customs Service. He thereby directed SGS to ensure making necessary arrangement for Customs to interface with the owner of the equipment they operate.

On a visit to CPC, Webb- Fountain was mandated to always update their system from time to time for effective services and to avoid brake down. CAC and the committee also visited the Gantry Scanner site, where the Scanner Manager, A.C. Oche, briefed them on the challenges of connectivity and epileptic network service.

Hon. Chinda, however directed the Scanner Manager to write an official report and submit to them, urging Webb- Fountain and SGS to ensure they improve on all the complaints against them, within the week and report back to the committee.


By Blaise Elumezie

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