TRADE FACILITATION: Customs Confirms Deployment Of Technology For Maximization

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The Nigeria Customs Service has said that it is forming alliance with the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, and other security and intelligence agencies to curtail terrorism, banditry, transborder security and other crimes across the country.

The Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali stated this on Thursday a Port Industry Town Hall Meeting organised by JournalNG in Lagos State. The theme of the town hall meeting was “Towards Hitchfree Port Operations in Nigeria.”

The CGC who was represented at the meeting by Deputy Comptroller Kikelomo Iyabode Adeola, DC in charge of Revenue at Tincan Island Port Command of the Service stated that the Service is not resting on her oars to nip every form of transborder insecurity nip in the bud.

The collaboration according to the Comptroller General of Customs is to function in four geo-political zones adding that the synergy would be coordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser.

This presentation is basically on maximizing Customs technology for trade facilitation and national security. And it is therefore pertinent to reflect on the available technology and as well as give an insight on the emergence of those technologies and its impact on Customs Operations.

“It is often said that “Human Organizations often have to undergo transformations in the form of re-organizations which are meant to achieve greater efficiency, transparency, accountability, effectiveness and above all guarantee security”

“And this is the story of automation in the Nigeria Customs Service, the Automation process in the Service is intended in line with the new World order to enhance Revenue Collection by mitigating risks caused by various factors such as misclassification, mis-description, undervaluation, overvaluation, origin fraud, corruption and issues of security”

“Historically speaking, the United Nations Centre for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had received a request from the secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to assist in the compilation of foreign trade statistics in the member Nations.

However, it became contingent
that this would require the involvement of Customs Clearance offices and the modernization of Customs Clearance procedure to achieve quality results”

“To this end on July 3”, 1997 the NCS signed the contract that led to the upgrading of its computerization system; hence the birth of ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data),

“The introduction of ASYCUDA
becomes a service preventive measure, with its inherent sophistication to prevent any fraud in the systems”

In CGC’s words: “Customs technology are those digital system and tools which the Service in line with global best practices is using to collect revenue, safe guard same and an enabler for trade facilitation. It is no longer news that the World is fast turning digital even at a rate that no one had envisaged and it therefore became pertinent for the Nigeria Customs Service to align with these global realities by the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in our operations.

“From the use of ICT in Office Automation, to the use of Internet to disseminate information, to the use of automated clearance ‘Systems to make declarations, perform the risk management, undertake validation and processing. The importance and impact created by the application of ICT can therefore not be underestimated”

According to Ali “Security is one of the most important components and consideration of all governments. National Security is therefore the safe keeping of the Nation as a whole, protection of its people from both Internal and external attack”

“But for the purpose of this discourse, it is said that a government that is not able to establish an adequate level of security will be faced with great consequence”

“Security is a big issue in Nigeria and NCS is at the centre of winning the war against insurgency, amongst other national security challenges. The current insecurity challenges and low intensity conflict in Nigeria that include kidnapping, militant activities, clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, and insurgency has correlation with cross-border crimes.

Arms, ammunition and other accessories deployed by the perpetrators of these crimes are either sourced through smuggling or are purchased and financed from proceeds of cross-border crimes like currency trafficking, terrorist funding and money laundering.

The destabilising effect of this is a major problem for the country and
indeed the sub-region as exemplified by the number of persons and property lost to the internal crises listed above.

Ali said: “The conflict disrupted
transit trade between Nigeria and Niger Republic and between Nigeria
and Chad Republic. Farming activities and other means of livelihood of the border communities is also drastically disrupted.

Against this background, the NCS sees the role it plays as strong proof of a direct relationship between what we allow through our borders and how much peace we enjoy as a country.

By cracking down on illegal arms
imports, a business man in Lagos and other parts of the country can drive home safely at night, even in traffic, knowing that the chances of a street urchin or traffic robber coming with illegal firearms to rob him will be greatly reduced. As you may have already guessed, a more peaceful atmosphere means that we can also attract foreign direct investment.

In spite of the identified challenges, the prospects for productive Customs Services is there, especially if the appropriate measures put in place are
funded to maturity.

“Border security will be enhanced if stakeholders are contained with proper legislations and the economic environment is stabilised with a reliable policy atmosphere. Effective interagency border collaboration results in reduced documentation, stimulates
professionalism through inter-change of strategies and experience: reduces smuggling to boost infant industries, and provides a wider manpower/material base for development.

Furthermore, inter-agency cooperation at the border posts enhances capacity in effectively checkmate and neutralizes emerging threats to national security.