|What is now known as the Nigeria
Customs Service – a paramilitary organisation, could
be said to have been established a little over a century
ago when the British Colonial administration appointed Mr.
T. A. Wall, in 1891, as the Director-General of Customs for
the collection of inland Revenue in Niger Coast
Protectorate. This is the formalization of the duties which
the Department had been performing under the Royal Niger
Company under the leadership of the past Chief Executives.
The name Department of Customs and
Excise emerged in 1922 when the first Comptroller of
Customs and Excise, Federation of Nigeria was appointed.
Towards the end of 1945, the Customs and Excise Preventive
service was established under the leadership of Mr. Nicol
– a Briton. This was made up of two divisions –
Maritime and Preventive. The maritime Division has the
responsibility of collecting import and excise duties and
other related functions while the Preventive Division was
responsible for enforcement duties which included
prevention of smuggling as well as arrest and prosecution
Sequel to the promulgation of the
Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) No. 55 of 1958 the
affairs of the Department were brought under the management
of a Board. The Chairman of the Board of Customs and Excise
was made the Chief Executive Officer of the Department. Mr.
E. P. C. Langdon, a Briton, was appointed the first
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1959. Mr. S. G.
Quinton succeeded him.
The attainment of independence in 1960
led to the Federal Government’s Nigerianisation
policy which brought about the appointment of the first
Nigerian Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
in the person of Mr. Ayodele Diyan in 1964. He died in 1968
and was succeeded by Mr. Henny Etim Duke.
Decree No. 7 of 1970 granted
additional powers with the definition of the membership of
the Board. Additional members were now to represent the
Federal Ministries of Economic Development and
Reconstruction, trade and Industries. The intention of this
decree was to broaden the scope of the national interest
which will make for better guidance in the Board’s
With the change of government in 1975
the three top management personnel were retired from the
public service and the post of Chairman of the Board was
abolished and replaced with that of Director. By virtue of
Decree No. 41 of 28th August 1975, all the powers that were
hitherto conferred on the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of
the Board were vested in the Director of Customs and Excise
and his deputies.
Alhaji Shehu A. Musa, was on 28th
August, 1975 appointed the first Director of the Department
of Customs and Excise. His tenure was brief as he had the
mandate only to reorganize the Board and Department of
Customs and Excise. His proposals, which were breathtaking
in depth and scope, were submitted within six months of his
Hitherto, the Department was operating
as two parallel Services – Revenue (Technical) and
Preventive (Enforcement). This parallel method of running
the two services created serious conflicts and immense
administrative problems. This seriously affected the
overall efficiency and attitude of officers and men with
the attendant negative impact on the image of the
Thus on the 1st April, 1977 the first
major reorganisation of the department took place. The
present unified service of the Department of Customs and
Excise was the result. Precisely this means unifying the
Technical and Preventive Services into one integrated
service where officers and men are to serve in any of the
two without hindrance. The unification structured the
Department into five main Directorates viz:
- Customs Tariff and Trade;
- Customs Enforcement Directorate;
- Customs Investigation Directorate
- Customs Inspection Directorate and
- Customs Economic relations, Research; and
Each Directorate was headed by a
Deputy Director. The overall head was still the Director,
Department of Customs and Excise and Chairman, Board of
Customs and Excise. In addition, there were four divisions
whose headship was drawn from the pool of the Public
Service. These were Administrative, Legal; Finance/Accounts
and Internal Audit. Mr. Oyebode Oyeleye was the first
Director under this new arrangement.
The year 1985 witnessed yet another
major structural change as the Department was removed from
the Federal Ministry of Finance to Internal Affairs. This
was sequel to government’s acceptance of the
recommendations of the Study Group on Customs and Smuggling
which was headed by Alhaji Yahaya Gusau. Thus, the Customs,
Immigration and Prisons Services Board was created with the
promulgation of Decree No. 14 of 11th January 1986.
This decree abolished the Board of
Customs and Excise with this new Board taking over
it’s functions and in addition absorbed the functions
of the Federal Public Service Commission with regard to
appointment, promotion and disciplinary control over staff
of the Department.
The Honourable Minister of Federal
Ministry of Internal affairs became the Chairman of the
CIPB with the Director of Customs and his cunterparts in
immigration and Prisons Departments as members. Alhaji
Abubakar Musa was the first director under this
The CIPB embark upon an extensive
re-organisation programme for the three Services in the
Federal Ministry of internal Affairs – Customs,
Immigration and Prisons. The most significant structural
changes that gave birth to the present day Customs and
Excise department took place on 16th February 1988 with the
upgrading of the post of Director of Customs and excise
from salary grade level 16 to salary grade level 17, the
Deputy Director post was increased in number by one i.e.
from five to six and the post up-graded from grade level 15
to 16. The functions of the Department were Assistant
Directors was created on salary grade level 15. The
functions of the Department were decentralised through
Zonal commands to facilitate decision making process. Zonal
Coordinators are to be in charge of the Zones while those
in charge of states are to be known as Area Controllers.
Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed was the first Comptroller General
under this arrangement.
In 1992 the Department of Customs and
Excise was transferred back to the Federal Ministry of
Finance and in addition its status as a para-military
organisation was recognised. It has since been known as
Nigeria Customs Service. There was an appropriate alignment
of salary grade levels and a re-structuring with what
obtains in the Nigeria Police Force.
With the change in Government on
November 1993, the Federal Governmet set up the
Major-General Paul Tarfa Panel to probe the activities of
the Nigeria Customs Service. The Panel was given one year
to conduct the probe and in the meantime a Sole
Administrator in the person of Brigadier – General
(later Major – General) S. O. G. Ango was appointed.
However, he was in charge of the service until 4th Feb.
1999 when the Federal Government announced the appointment
of Ahmed Aliyu Mustapha (OFR) a career Customs officer as
the substansive Comptroller-General of Customs.
Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Mustapha (OFR)
assumed duties as the Comptroller-General of Customs on 4th
February, 1999. Before then, he was the ACG (FATS) and
later the Zonal Coordinator, Zone "C", Bauchi.
A new board headed by the Honourable
minister of Finance was also re constituted. The
Comptroller -General was assisted by 6 Deputy -
Comptrollers- General, heading the Departments viz.
- Finance, Administration and Technical
- Tarrif and Trade.
- Excise and industrial incentives.
- Enforcement and drugs.
- Economic Relating Research and planning.
- Investigation and Inspection.
The 6-zonal Administrative structure
was also retained. Following the retirement of Ahmed Aliyu
Mustapha as Controller-General of Customs on 31st December
2003, the Federal Government of Nigeria set up a Reform
Committee headed by the Honourable Minister of state for
finance, Mrs. Nenadi Esther Usman. The Committee
recommended a fundamental re-structure of the Service to
re-position it to meet increasing challenges. in the
meantime, D A Ogungbemile, a Deputy Controller-General
acted as Controller- General.
Consequent up on the acceptance of the
Committee's report, sweeping reforms were implemented
- The appointment of Jacob Gyang Buba as
Comptroller- General, and the Constitution of a new
- The Retirement of 75 senior officers of
the rank of Comptroller of Customs,
- The restructuring of the service into 3
departments, each headed by a Deputy Comptroller- General
- Corporate Service & Economic
- Tariff and Trade, and
- Enforcement, Investigation and
The Committee Found that the former
structure was defective, requiring re-organisation to give
the service better focus and direction. There was no
economic justification for the existing 6 zonal structure.
lt was therefore abrogated and replaced with only 4 zones,
under which there were a total of only 25 Area Commands.
On 27th May 2008, Jacob Gyang Buba
disengaged from Service and in his place Hamman Bello
Ahmed, a serving Assistant Comptroller-General was
appointed as the Comptroller-General. He retired from
Service on 15th January 2009, Dr. Bernard-Shaw Nwadialo, a
Deputy Comptroller-General was appointed first in acting
capacity, and subsequently confirmed in March 2009.
He in turn disengaged from Service on
17th August 2009, paving the way for the emergence of an
Assistant Comptroller-General, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, who
was appointed to replace him. Under Abdullahi, approval was
given for a minor adjustment to the Service structure with
the creation of an additional department, Human Resource,
to be headed by a Deputy Comptroller-General. A new Command
and Staff College, designated as a World Customs
Organisation (WCO) Regional Training Centre, was
established in Gwagwalada, Abuja to bridge skills gap in
readiness of take-over of the Destination Inspection
programme outsourced to Foreign Service Providers.
History was made on the 30th
November 2013, when the Comptroller-General, Dikko Inde
Abdullahi launched the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report
(PAAR), signaling the official takeover of the scheme by
the Nigeria Customs Service.