Apapa Port: The tasks before Comptroller Abba-Kura
.Recovers over N17.4 billion using profiling technique
By Udeme Clement
Expectations are high as Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura takes over Apapa Command, as the new Customs Area Controller, CAC.
The tasks before him:
While the out-going CAC of the Command, ACG Bashir Ababukar described him as a competent officer who understands Customs operations so well, other officers within Zone ‘A” said his skills on ICT should enable him to build on the outstanding performance of his predecessor.
The tasks before Comptroller Abba-Kura include building on the existing records of high revenue generation at a premier port like Apapa, 24 hours cargo clearance to enhance trade facilitation in line with the ‘Ease of Doing Business Policy of Government’, anti-smuggling drive, regular stakeholders’ engagement and in-house capacity building of officers under his supervision to enhance operational efficiency at all times.
It could be recalled that until his recent posting to Apapa Command, Comptroller Abba-Kura was in charge of Post-Clearance Audit, PCA, department of Customs in Zone ‘A.
He assumed duty in the PCA department precisely in February, 2018. This department can be said to be entirely unique, as it handles consignments already out of the ports.
Recovering huge revenue losses with PCA:
The record shows that he achieved the recovery of about N17.4 billion in 2018 fiscal year while in PCA unit with his ICT skills.
More so, he facilitated the recovery of N2.3 billion in the same department, using what is known as Harmonised System, HS, code, as well as profiling technique to block defaulting companies from carrying out more transactions until outstanding revenue shortfalls were paid to government.
“While in PCA, we used profiling to recover revenue losses to government. Whenever we profiled and uncovered infractions, we wrote to the importers and their clearing agents.
“In the process, a period of two weeks was allowed for the parties involved to respond. If response was not received after two weeks, a remind letter was written with another grace period of one week. Again, if no response was received by our department after that period, such companies were blocked from the system.
“That was done by blocking such companies from using Tax Identification Numbers, TIN, of the agents, as well as their importers. As such, they were compelled to answer the queries on their declarations.
“If the issue had to do with Harmonised System, HS, code, we pointed it out to them based on their declarations done in the system”.
Comptroller Abba-Kura went on, “Blocking such companies was a strategic way of making them to comply, as that prevented them from carrying out further transactions until pending issues were resolved accordingly”.
The profiling technique:
He explained, “Profiling the importers or agents implies looking at the tariffs, the explanatory notes and other documents to prove issues of underpayments to them. This becomes necessary for the companies to see clearly that their declarations were not right and appropriate duties were not paid.
“The profiling can also be done using what is called Customs Number, that is the ‘C Number’ to look at activities of importers or agents. The HS code can also be used to profile companies importing a particular type of item. That way, we use the name of the consignment to confirm the imports frequency”.
He informed, “The moment a case of underpayment is established, the PCA department issues Demand Notice, DN, for revenue shortfalls to be paid by the company involved to government”.
On the whole, stakeholders and port users expect Comptroller Abba-Kura to bring his experience to bear in achieving operational efficiency in the premier port.