On April 3, armed men from the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) stormed Lucky Amiwero’s, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agent’s (NCMDLCA’s) office, beat him, before he was whisked away to the FOU office in Ikeja, for alleged misinformation.
At Ikeja, he was locked up and denied access to his lawyer for five days.
Amiwero, is an advocate for port reform in Nigeria. He was a member of the Reconstituted Presidential Task Force on Reform of the Nigeria Customs Service in 2010.
Amiwero stated that the Customs authority have decided to punish him for his stand on many policies of the service considered contradictory to trade facilitation.
As a concerned stakeholder in the maritime sector, he has mounted pressure on government to suspend Benchmarking, also known as Commodities Data Base, the Comptroller General of Customs, Abdulahi Inde’s policy to boost the revenue profile of the Customs, which the Federal Government has mandated to generate N1 trillion for the 2012 fiscal year.
The Customs is doing everything it could to silence those stakeholders, who opposed the Benchmarking policy. Benchmarking is a revenue collecting system where flat duties are charged on imported commodities regardless of the value of such goods.
Amiwero had written the President in one of his petitions to reverse the Benchmarking. The petition, titled: “Illegal Imposition of Commodities Data Base by Nigeria Customs Service in Contravention of the Customs and Excise Management (Amendment) Act 20 of 2003,” had prodded the President to disregard the policy as it contravenes paragraph 7 (1) of the Act which stipulates that “Customs valuation shall be based on the actual price of the goods to be valued, bought or imported for use in Nigeria, based on the price actually payable with adjustment.”
When Senate President, David Mark received the same petion, he responded by directing the Senate Committee on Finance to act on the matter. The Federal Government has since cancelled the policy following strong civil resistance of Benchmarking led by Amiwero.
Amiwero had been arrested and charged to court for alleged minsinformation of the President. His ofence: he has signed and authorised the issuance of a document to the President without authority. That he also gave false information to the Office of the President of the Federal Republic, thereby committing an offence contrary to the provision of section 125 (A) l(a) of the Criminal Code Act cap C 38 Laws of of the federaton, 2004 an offence punishable under the same Act.
Vanguard’s efforts to seek clarification from the Customs as to why the arrest, was to no avail as the Customs Public Relations Officer, who did not want his name in print, explained that he has just been posted to the FOU, from Servicom.