Customs:How Executive Orders Are Abused

By Stephen UbannaOver the years, there had been rumors making the rounds of the abuse of Executive Orders by the Presidency in the release of impounded vehicles by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS. From Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari , the situation is the same: abuse of Executive orders to satisfy political interests. The situation, according a Customs source, was worse during the military era as it was very easy obtain Executive orders.
The Enclopaedia Britainica described Executive Orders as the” President’s primary tools for the Management and mobilization of the vast resources of the government to promote its policy agendas”. Politicians who are well connected are said to be using the Executive Orders power of the Presidency for their pecuniary gains, particular those who issues to settle with NCS.
A senior Customs officer at Abuja informed the Magazine that Customs personnel may not be doing much for now in preventing the activities of VIP smugglers across the country because of the fear that the presidency may make nonsense of their efforts. The officer disclosed that there had been instances where they had made vehicular seizures of exotic vehicles but there would be an executive order forcing them to release the detained vehicle to the importer.

Detained vehicles at customs premises

The officer disclosed that the Executive order first gets to the Comptroller General, who in turn passes the information down the line until it gets to the Area Comptroller for implementation . The Comptrollers most affected are those at the sea ports and Federal Operations unit across the country.
The Magazine learnt that there have been instances where Containers imported through the seaport were never subjected to scanning or one hundred percent Examination because of an Executive order that it should not be opened until it gets to its destination. It was gathered that the Executive orders mostly affect the transit Containers going to Niger and Chad , which develop wings on the way.
The most case was that of the Oyo state government which smuggled three Toyota Prado Jeeps model into the country from Republic of Benin through Idiroko land border but fell into the waiting hands of the Federal Operations Unit , FOU, Zone A. Muhammed Uba Garba, the Area Comptroller was said to have sent an incident report to Ali, the Comptroller General, who ordered the vehicles to be detained. It was bad news for Abiola Ajimobi, the state governor , who needed the vehicles to give out as present to some civil servants for their meritorious service.
insiders told the Magazine that there was nothing the governor did not do to arm-twist Muhammed , the Command Area Comptroller including using his contacts at the Customs Headquarters to get the vehicles released but no luck.
Aware that the vehicles may be seized because of the government policies banning the importation of foreign and vehicles through the land border stations which are still in force he was forced to reach out to Buhari who was said to have issued an Executive order to Customs for the detained vehicles at FOU, Zone A, to be released to the Oyo government with a payment of the appropriate duties . Based on some of the Executive orders which the Customs Headquarters had received in the recent times and passed down the ladder, the duty slammed on some of the vehicles detained at the Command including that of the Oyo state government was between N2million and N6 million per unit.
Many believe that without the intervention of the Presidency the Oyo state government could have lost the vehicles to the Federal government. But there are fears in both official and unofficial quarters that most the exotic vehicles currently being detained at the Command premises may be released through Executive Orders as the owners are top flight politicians who are using their contact s in the Presidency to facilitate the issuance of Executive to the Customs Management to release the Vehicles. A visitor to the Command would be surprised at the quantity and quality of vehicles detained in the premises. The market value of G-Wagon, for instance was put at about N100 million. It was gathered that of the 19 exotic vehicles that was impounded by the Riks Lura led Operations and Lagos Roving Team of the Command between Wednesday, July 4, 2018 and Saturday, July 7, 2018, 15, were said to have been smuggled through unapproved routes in Seme and Idiroko land border stations while the three that passed through Port Multi-services Terminal limited, PTML, the importers were said to have short-changed the government.
Maritime analysts would want President Buhari to deemphasize on the use of Executive orders to allow Ali, the Comptroller General and his officers at the seaports, airport and land border stations including the FOUs personnel across the country to do their job. They noted that the continued use of Executive orders to force the Customs to do the biddings of the Presidency would spell doom for the economy.

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