President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of the amendment of the Customs Excise Management Act (CEMA) last week has caused an uproar in the maritime sector. The hearts of the clearing agents operating at the nation’s seaports have been filled with joy in the past week over the rejection of the amendment of the Customs Excise and Management Act (CEMA), by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to clearing agents, the act would have put the sector into complete chaos and removed some powers conferred on the President by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Raising observations on about 24 clauses and the schedules in the bill passed by both Chambers of the National Assembly, President Buhari had returned the bill to the National Assembly and refused to sign the amendment into law. However, applauding the President’s rejection of the bill, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), said that the bill was put together in a hurry and as such negates some existing acts.
The acting National President, ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, said, “For instance, if you look at section 7, it negates the rights of any Nigerian to take Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to court on issue of litigation. Before you can do that, you must seek for clearance or notify them before you take them to court. If you also look at the powers given to the board, it eroded the power of the supervising minister and even the power of the President himself. The issue of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), that one too, we have not started it yet, they already laid public might for this process, which would have assisted to move our economy forward. That also must be reviewed.
“The other one is the issue of Protection of Intellectual property, which we have an act already supervising that. The people that brought this CEMA bill together never envisage or they forget to know that protection of Intellectual Property, is an act itself, so if the President signs this bill into law, it will be conflicting with other acts. Also, the issue of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ), where a lot of incentives are given to Nigerian importers and exporters, this bill if signed into law, would mean that NCS will start collecting tariffs or levies on exported goods. Above all, the bill if signed into law will now arrogate the issuing of licensing of companies and firms to NCS, don’t forget that we have the Corporate Affairs Commission, and the Corporate Affairs Acts, which empowers them to register any company in Nigeria.”
Finally, Kayode Farinto said that the association has made necessary intervention on the bill during public hearing, and that a clearing agent from the Council for Regulations of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN), must be present on the Customs board.