By Bayo Bernard
The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS Apapa Command controller, Comptroller Musa Jibrin has rebuffed the timeworn belief that foreigners particularly, Asians are not allowed by Nigerian law to perform the function of cargo clearing in the country. Some stakeholders in the maritime sector have lamented a situation whereby foreigners are allowed to clear goods at the nation’s ports, in the process taking away jobs meant for Nigerians.
The proponents of this cause have intensified the indigenisation campaign, so much so that pressure is being mounted on the federal government to totally bar foreigners from clearance of cargoes at Nigerian Ports .
But Musa told some journalists under the aegis of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN, in his office that baring foreigners from the clearing chain is almost impossible because the nation’s extant laws allow companies operated by foreigners in the country to clear theirs goods on their own.
As a result of this window of opportunity, Comptroller Musa said, foreign companies operating in the country can clear their cargoes without going through Nigerian licensed agents.
Musa further stated that the essence of Ease of Doing Business policy of the Federal Government is to provide enabling environment for foreign direct investment, FDI in the country to thrive.
Comptroller Musa stated thus “There have been talks about foreigners around the customs house, in our import and export activities, we are dealing with both Nigerians and Non-Nigerians, and most of the industries we as a nation have licensed them, some of the companies that operate in Nigeria are owned by foreigners, we have assembly plants for Keke Napep and cars assembly companies owned largely by foreigners”
According to him “The customs service does not license foreigners as a clearing agent, but they license companies and they grant self-clearance to such companies, any company can be given self-clearance, it is now the prerogative of such company to decide on whom they send to process customs documentation
If a company is owned by a foreigner and the clearing outfit of that company has foreigners, definitely you cannot rule out seeing a foreigner following up an entry, it is not our prerogative to tell them not to come forward, ” he stated.
The controller further added that the law also has a provision for an importer to hire a custom agent to help him clear a consignment, therefore the owner of the consignment may be working from behind while he contract the responsibility to the clearing agent.