Allegations of illegality at Kano free trade zone false – Customs

The Kano/Jigawa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Management of Kano Free Trade Zone have jointly debunked an article alleging irregularities at the Free Trade Zone causing the federal government huge losses in revenue generation.

According to ML. Alabi, Superintendent of Customs and SA, Special Duties to the Kano/Jigawa Comptroller, Dauda Ibrahim Chana while reacting to the article titled: “Federal Government losing huge revenue to saboteurs at Kano Free Trade Zone” published by an online platform; Nigeria Tracker described it as malicious, unfounded and an attempt to discourage officers and men of the Customs.

He said, a so called self-acclaimed economic expert, Mr. Audu Abubakar, who accused men of the Customs of illegalities in the article succeeded in displaying his ignorance in activities of the Nigeria Customs especially in the areas of Duty, Import and Export processes and the laws guiding trade activities in the Free Trade Zone while describing the journalist behind the said story as unprofessional, violating the journalistic code of objectivity, fairness and balanced story, publishing an accusation without any efforts to speak with those concerned.

He said: “We woke up to a story accusing our men of illegalities making the government to lose billions of naira as revenue.

“The claims that our men are conniving with some business men to divert finished products to the Export Processing Zone and pay only 30% Customs duty and or sometimes pay nothing is unfounded, laughable, a deliberate mischief to drag the Service and the good intention of the Federal Government for creating the Zone to Facility ease of doing business and create more employment for its people.

“We were even more surprised by the attitude of the reporter who would go ahead to write a story without investigating claims raised and giving a chance to the accused for a balanced story. It is not only unprofessional but an insult on the noble profession.”

Alabi stated that, contrary to the allegations of revenue lost, the Kano/Jigawa recorded Six Hundred and Thirteen Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Four. Eighty-one Kobo (613,369,204.81) between January-April 2024 as against One hundred and thirty-two million, four hundred and thirty-six thousand, seven hundred and sixty-six (132,436,766.00) in 2023; a clear indication of rise in revenue generation by our men.

He stated that: “We have a regulatory body NEPZA that regulates the Activities of Free Trade Zone and until and unless there is an intention of exporting to Customs territory our men cannot be found in the picture although when goods are brought in, records are taken for proper duty collection and calculation but then, Customs are not the only body present there.

“In the Free Trade Zone, there are productions taking place, there are manufacturing taken place and the end product of all these are finished products and for these to go out, duties are paid so how does this person come to the conclusion that finished goods are being moved out of the zone without paying duty or given illegal discount or destined for Customs territory? 

“It is also good for the public to know that goods or raw materials locally sourced are duty free as well as exportation.

“Let it also be on record that the process of clearance involves many stages and we even have a unit domicile in every Command that check after clearance of goods cleared for anomalies, so no officer can connive because the documents are all intact to show what transpired, it is a baseless allegation.

“In the interest of justice and fair hearing, it is always good to listen to both parties. It is devastating to sit at your comfort zone and insinuate that this is what should happen. The government will not fold its hands and the present CGC of customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, will not allow such sabotage under his watch. He is a trade facilitator and you can check what the Service has generated so far under him,” Alabi added.

Furthermore, Public Relations officer of the Command SC Saidu Nuraddeen described such unpatriotic attitude from some individuals as capable of affecting the thousands of persons earning a living within the facility adding that people must learn to prioritize the interest of the country above their selfish interests.

He said: “At a time, the country is struggling to sustain its economy, what baseless allegations that portrays the government or any of its agencies must be frowned at and I advise that people should always verify their information and be wary of aggrieved persons who couldn’t have their way to achieve their selfish interests, hence resort to cheap black mail”.

The Platform had earlier reported that Some businessmen are in the habit of diverting finished products to Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority because they pay as little as 30% of the customs duty while the government lose billions of revenues with the help of some Customs officers.

Also, The Director Kano Free Trade Zone Muazu Musa Sahabi in a rejoinder said Mr. Abubakar is grossly ignorant of the Free Zone’s operations in general and the strict rules governing import and export activities in the Zone.

Sahabi revealed that a total sum of N364,289,408.63 IGR was generated by his office between January to 25th April 2024 which is a significant record and does not go in line with the accusation of the faceless writer.

He added that, inline with the “Nigeria First” Mantra of the present leadership of the Authority, the Zone has been strategically repositioned to provide efficient service delivery to investors and ensure returns to on investment to the Federal Government in line with international best practices and the public are hereby urged to disregard the allegation.

Prabhu Dorai, the owner of two companies within the Kano Free Trade Zone including Planet Go Green FZE when contacted about his experiences described the Kano Free Trade Zone as one of the best in the country with capable management team and professional and uncompromised Customs Officers worthy of emulation.

He said, the Customs in Kano Free Trade Zone have been very effective in their job as documentation takes him maximum of two hours and if there is any delay, the office of the Kano/Jigawa Controller is always open and it will be addressed immediately.

Dorai added that the Customs in Kano have distinguished themselves from other commands he has been to and have been dogged in their mode of operation ensuring all necessary customs duty are dully paid and he personally can attest to their resilience at blocking revenue leakages.