Stories by Isaac Anumihe
On Monday, January 30, the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd.), raised the alarm over the interception of 661 pump action rifles imported into the country from China. This concern came in view of the fragile security situation in Nigeria.
Ali, said that the rifles are under absolute prohibition and so their importation is illegal and contravenes the law.
The deadly items were discovered in a 1 x 40 feet container with number: PONU/825914/3 via a MACK truck with registration number: BDG 265 XG along Mile 2, Apapa Road.
According to him, the suspects, including two customs officers involved in the importation, had been arrested. They are Mr Oscan Okafor (importer), aged 51; Mr Mahmud Hassan (clearing agent), aged 56 and Mr Sadique Mustapha (accompanying the consignment to the destination), aged 28. Ali, however, did not disclose the names of the officers arrested but explained that the service was still investigating the matter because every officer whose name or signature appears on the documents would be picked up for interrogation and prosecution if found culpable.
This was coming after the Customs Area Controller, Tin Can Command, Bashar Yusuf, in December, raised a similar alarm following the interception of 10 pieces of live rounds of ammunition called Harmady 40 X and W ammunition.
In the same period, another container marked MSCU718443/6, which contained one used Nissan Armada with chassis number 5NIAA08A69N709779 (a 2007 model) was discovered to contain one Omini American tactical riffle with number AR48634, as well as a Moasperg American pump action rifles with number U648018.
The command also discovered on examination in the same vehicle 3,500 premier gun pellets and another 4,000 pieces of hollow air gun pellets.
“There is also in the same container already made military foods of about 26 packages and other military kits including nine pieces of military bulletproof vests, one piece of military helmet with proof, one piece of military gas mask with two pairs of glasses, one piece of pistol pouch, one piece of riffle pouch, two pairs of boots,” Yussuf said.
On October 26,2010, a combined team of security operatives intercepted 13 containers laden with arms and ammunition including rocket launchers, cartridges and hand grenades at the AP Moller Terminals in Apapa Port.
Also, in January 2017, a weapons cache containing artillery rockets was discovered by Nigerian security agents.
The desperation in the importation of weapons is because there is a ready market for arms in Nigeria. That is why a large number of prohibited ammunition are in the hands of herdsmen, militants, armed robbers, kidnappers and even cult members. These arms and ammunition were imported through our porous borders and seaports and they were duly cleared by the Ccustoms and other security agencies at the seaports and land borders These development leave one with the impression that Nigeria may soon be joining countries like Somalia, Yemen and Southern Sudan where light arms are freely being sold on the streets.
In other countries’ entry points including seaports, land borders and airports, the physical examination of goods and cargoes is no longer in vogue.
These countries have migrated from physical examination to scanning by machines. A few years ago, the Federal Government installed scanners worth billions of dollars at every entry and departure point. These scanners were effectively managed by Cotecna and Webfrontier on contract basis.
But things went awry since Customs began to manage the scanners. Perhaps, for lack of skill, the whole scanners were destroyed which the Comptroller General, Colonel Ali, attested to on Monday.
“Yes, we have problems with the scanners. Most of them are not working. But we are working diligently to replace them. By God’s grace, by the end of this first quarter, we will have scanners fully installed in our ports. We have done a lot of scooping on some of them. A few of them can be repaired and replaced and we need to replace most of them with new ones and you know what it is. The paucity of funds has been part of our problems. But we are working diligently to make sure we get scanners into our own ports and the borders,” the CG said.
However, some of the stakeholders have said that the new scanners the Federal Government is planning to install in the ports and land borders should not be managed by Customs because the service lacks skill.
According to the co-ordinator of Save Nigerian Freight Forwarders, Chief Patrick Chukwu, the Customs lacks the knowhow to manage the scanners and that the former managers, Cotecna and Webfrontiers should be recalled to take over the management.
“I am a pragmatic person. As long as I know, Customs is not trained to manage the scanners. Customs was trained in another system. But this scanner issue was imposed on Customs. And that explains the epileptic ways the scanner is being managed. That has brought about a tremendous reduction of checkmating the movement of contraband and illicit drugs coming into Nigeria. Only NAFDAC and other agencies cannot physically check all these excesses into Nigeria.
“I think there is a deliberate plan to destroy the system so that those people who want to bring fake and contraband goods and cargoes will have their way easily. By mere physical examination, you cannot identify certain drugs like cannabis and some illicit drugs. The only way out is to revert to scanner. Scanner can discover things the physical eyes cannot find out. That is the job of scanner. Scanners are very important to the nation that needs growth. Scanners will bring about sanity in the system and reduce bribery in the terminals.
Over 300 or 400 containers go through the scanner everyday. It brings about less fatigue on the job. It will cut cost on the importers as a result of the demurrage they will pay. Manual checking lasts up to three weeks or four weeks. But if there is scanner, once it is scanned, they will have less job to do because the containers will have yellow tag,” he submitted.
Another importer who pleaded anonymity said the Federal Government should hasten its plan to fix the scanners both at the borders, sea and airports if it is serious with fighting corruption and contraband items.
Besides, importers and other agencies at the entry points connive to bring in prohibited items because of pecuniary interests. The Federal Government should identify those bad eggs that constitute a clog in the wheel of progress and flush them out of the system. It is against this backdrop that the arrest of the Customs officers who were involved in the clearance of the 661 pump action rifles is commendable.
This will help to deter those who have similar intentions.
So, unless and until these scanners are installed and insurgent activities are minimised, importation of arms will not cease.
LADOL partners BSDC to promote $12trn global devt target
By Ray Ugochukwu
The Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics base (LADOL), has joined notable world business promoters to develop a sustainable business outlook expected to unlock over US$12 trillion in new market value as well as repair the global economic system within the next decade.
Rising from a crucial conference in London, the United Kingdom (UK), the group under the umbrella body of Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC), raised the optimism that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities of such high value while at the same time creating over 380 million every year by 2030.
The BSDC, which was launched in Davos in January 2016, has the Managing Director of LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, as a member from Nigeria alongside other 36 leaders drawn from business, finance, civil society, labour and international organizations across the world.
The Commission has a twin objective of mapping the economic prize that could be available to business if the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals are achieved, as well as highlighting how businesses can contribute to delivering such goals.
In a statement by the Commission, the body stressed that the next decade would be critical for companies to open 60 key market “hot spots,” tackle social, environmental challenges, and re-build trust with the society at large.
It further pointed out that putting the Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise called Global Goals, at the heart of the world’s economic strategy could “unleash a step-change in growth and productivity, with an investment boom in sustainable infrastructure as a critical driver”.
It however noted that “this will not happen without radical change in the business and investment community. Real leadership is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to fix the economy”.
Commenting on the goals of the Commission, Dr. Jadesimi, a member of the global body urged members to demonstrate commitment to the ideals of the report, beyond making it a mere paper work.
“We need to show these ideas work not just in a report but on the business frontline,” said added.
In its flagship report tagged ‘Better Business, Better World’, the Commission recognizes that “while the last few decades have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, they have also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, ever more debt and ever greater environmental risks.
“This mix has fueled an anti-globalization reaction in many countries, with business and financial interests seen as central to the problem, and is undermining the long-term economic growth that the world needs,” the statement said.
The Commission has spent the last year exploring how to address the question, “What will it take for business to be central to building a sustainable market economy—one that can help to deliver the Global Goals?”
The body is however optimistic that its report tagged “Better Business, Better World” which is timed with the World Economist Forum in Davos and the U.S. presidential inauguration, would adequately provide the needed answer.
NIMASA seeks stakeholders input on port reforms
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has called on maritime stakeholders to make input in the ongoing Port Reform Agenda of the present administration in other to reposition the maritime industry for greater efficiency.
Peterside made this call recently in Lagos when he played host to a delegation of the Editorial Board of the Nation Newspaper led by its chairman Mr. Sam Omatseye and the chief strategist of Epsilon Limited Mr. Amechi Chukwujama who came to brief him on preparation for a proposed port reforms conference in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
The Director General said there is the need to harness a synergy of ideas from all stakeholders towards ensuring a very user friendly port system that will be a model in the sub-region. He added that the need for seamless transaction at the ports cannot be over emphasized.
He asserted that the proposed conference would help reposition the Maritime Sector for the realization of the change agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration.
The Executive Director (Finance and Administration) Mr. Bashir Yusuf Jamoh in his contribution made a case for the inclusion of the railways in the intended ports reform in order to decongest the roads.
Mr. Fashakin Rotimi Joseph (Executive Director Operations) on his part commended the Nation Newspaper for conceiving and proposing this conference which is expected to create awareness and set acceptable standards for port operations in Nigeria.
The leader of the delegation, Omatseye informed NIMASA management that the Port Reform Conference is intended to bring together all agencies connected with port administration to create a seamless business environment through an acceptable template with defined timelines.