Monday, October 29, 2018

Detained 2000 Export Containers: Kudos To The Nigeria Custom Service

The recent development at the Nigerian ports in Lagos which showed that over 2,000 export containers were delayed as a result of inadequate documentation is a welcome development for the growth and sanity in the non-oil export sector in Nigeria. I will like to say kudos to the Nigeria Custom Service for the courage to take this bold step.
Before now, a number of items were usually exported out of Nigeria without documentation and one will begin to wonder how these products are able to leave the country while the Customs are supposed to be guarding the border. The report of 2,000 export Containers being delayed which emerged from the port last week is an indication that the Nigeria Customs Service are now living up to their responsibility of ensuring that any item leaving Nigeria adhere to the export documentations and guideline and thereby aiding the correctness and accuracy of the export statistics from the relevant government agencies in  Nigeria.
Generally, three sets of people export items out of Nigeria without documentation for a number of reasons. Basically we have the illegal exporters who want to export contraband products out of Nigeria, manufacturers coming from abroad to buy raw materials and the corrupt individuals who wants to launder monies that were obtained through illicit means.
The first on the list are illegal exporters. Illegal exporters are individuals who want to export contraband out of the country  or items on the export prohibited list, knowing fully well that banks will not process the transaction, they would rather send the goods to the port and find their way through customs and get the goods out of the country by probably bribing them. 
The second set of people are foreigners who have been sent in to the country basically to buy raw materials for their companies. They usually would come in with foreign currencies like USD and convert them to Naira. They partner with a Nigerian company to open account of which they are the sole signatory and through this they are able to receive the USD, convert to Naira and with the Naira, they are able to buy commodities and ship them to their companies abroad.  They don’t have the plan of repatriating the funds and this account for the reason why they don’t go to the bank to process pre and post documentations for their shipments. 
The third group of people are corrupt individuals who are either politicians or in the corporate world who are able to obtain cash in bribe or through other illicit transactions. In the bid to launder and thus clean the money and to make it appear as legitimate fund in the eye of observers, they would use it to buy commodities and export the products out of the country without documentations and this proceed of crime is then remitted to a foreign currency accounts offshore. Whoever is seeing the funds in such account will think they are clean because it can be traced to a particular transaction. 
Out of the this three categories, the only one doing legitimate business and need help are the people who represent their manufacturers from other country who have legitimate means of raising their funds but however, doing the right thing the wrong way by exporting the right products without documentations. I will recommend that they make their transactions legal forming an alliance with Nigerian companies and use this to bring in the funds legally. This can be done by declaring the purpose of the funds through the application for the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI). With this, they will be able to legally repatriate their funds back to their country after they have exported their goods and bring back the export proceeds. This way, they will be able to bring money into Nigeria, buy their products, ship the products out of Nigeria, get the proceed back into Nigeria and eventually repatriate the proceeds to wherever they want it using their CCI.
Finally, I will like to say a BIG thank you to the Controller General of the Nigeria Custom Service for eventually enforcing this regulation. I will also like to plead with the management of Customs that they should not allow the likely pressures for any quarter to make them to redeploy the relevant Custom Area Controllers who are very patriotic and have summoned the courage to implement this export guideline. 
Bamidele Ayemibo /

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