The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside ,has identified government failure to institute requisite laws and policies which he said hinders the country to take advantage of the enormous potentials of the blue economy in Nigeria.

Dakuku, who was speaking at a one-day seminar on the role of journalists in promoting Blue Sea Economy organized by the agency at Lekki, Lagos on Tuesday, remarked that lack of the exploitation of the potentials of the country’s abundant maritime resources was also compounded  by the sheer lack of ignorance of the people about the issue.

The problem, the DG NIMASA further explained, was exacerbated by lack of investments in the potentials inherent in blue economy.

Reacting to the paper presentation by Sam Omatseye, the Chairman, Editorial Board of The Nation Newspapers, Dakuku, however called on the maritime media to engage in the enlightenment of the people over the enormous opportunities embedded in the blue economy.

He stated that Nigeria is well endowed in maritime resources but regretted that the country has failed to exploit these benefits to her advantage.

‘’Nigeria is well endowed in maritime resources. We are one of the most endowed nations in the   global maritime community but lack of enabling environment, dearth of knowledge and non-existent investment to develop these potentials have rubbed us off its benefits.

‘’I however call on the media to educate the public on this issue and NIMASA is willing to form a synergy with the media to achieve this’’, NIMASA DG declared.

The blue economy has to do with the structured policy of identifying a nation’s endowments in the seas, harnessing and exploiting them with legitimate institutional framework.

NPA declares N299.56bn revenue for 2017

 

The Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) has grossed a princely sum of N299.56billion as generated revenue for 2017 fiscal year.

According to a statement signed by Abdullahi Goje, the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication of the agency, the 2017 revenues exceeded the 2016 figure of N162.20bn by 84.65 percent and is the highest generated by the authority in the past five years.

Goje declared that in 2013, the NPA generated the sum of N154.50bn which increased to N159.30bn and N180.50bn in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

‘’ The authority’s revenue however dropped to N162.20bn in 2016’’, the NPA spokesman stated.

However, the 2017 figure declared by the agency is made up of revenues from “traffic,” “harbours,”“administrative” and “others” sources in the sum of N136.04bn, N66.80bn, N86.06bn and N10.75bn respectively.

The declaration of the agency’s annual revenue profile was in fulfillment of the pledge of Hadiza Usman, the Managing Director of the NPA that she would be declaring the revenue profile of the agency from time to time and that the budget of the authority would be make public for appraisal.

Meanwhile, Hadiza Bala Usman has informed  Stakeholders and Port Users of the renewed vigour and determination of agency at improving the present state of infrastructure to meeting world class standards towards ensuring the swift evacuation of cargo from the seaports across the country to the hinterlands  through the rail lines.

According to her, NPA was fully aware of the state of congestion in the Ports caused by the bad roads within the Port axis which she regretted has led to a reduction in revenue accruable to the organisation as well as the inability of the nation to maximize her potential as a major player in the Maritime sector within the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hadiza represented by the General Manager  MD’s Office, Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu made these remarks while on a facility maintenance inspection of  the state of the rail lines in the Ports accompanied by the top echelon of the Nigerian Railway Corporation[NRC] led by its Director OfOperations ,Niyi Alli, to Terminals within the Apapa corridor over the weekend.

‘’ Management would collaborate and improve on the existing synergy with the NRC at addressing the challenges facing the Corporation with a view to increasing the market size of the country in the area of Cargo evacuation ‘’, the NPA MD pledged.

The Director Operations, Nigerian Railway Corporation [NRC] Mr Niyi Alli who stood in for the Managing Director of the Corporation Mr Fidet Okhiria stated that the working visit was to assess the present state of the rail lines in order to further collaborate with the NPA in the area of rehabilitation.

According to Alli, the rail service would be optimally utilized for Cargo evacuation in line with the Federal Government’s policy of Ease of Doing Business in the country. He stated that plans are being concluded by putting into operation between 15- 20 Locomotive Wagons with each evacuating 20 units of 40 footer container at a go from the Terminals to the hinterland.

It would be recalled the Honorable Minister of Transportation ,Rotimi Amaechi, recently instituted a Committee comprising the Managing Directors of NPA and NRC as well as their top echelon to carry out on the spot assessment of the present state of infrastructure of the rail lines in the Terminals. It is expected that the rehabilitations would further go a long way towards the swift evacuation of Cargo from the Ports.

Change of baton at Tin Can Customs –as Comptroller Musa takes over from Bashar

 

Funso Olojo || A new Comptroller has resumed duties at the Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service.

Yesterday, Comptroller Musa N.B.A took over the mantle of leadership from Comptroller Yusuf Bashar who have provided effective leadership in the last two years for the command during which spectacular seizures were made, among which were the famous double arms seizures that recently earned the command a World Customs Organisation(WCO)recognition award.

At a brief hand -over ceremony held at the command on Wednesday,  Comptroller Bashar advised the new Comptroller to leverage on the achievements recorded by the command under his watch in the last two years.

He said the command generated N600 billion within the last two years, expressing confidence that the incoming Comptroller will surpass the target.

He expressed appreciation to officers and stakeholders including clearing agents operating at the command for helping him achieve success during his stay, while appealing to them to extend same support to his successor.

“Not quite long, we receive an international award because of our performance. I have no doubt in my mind that Tin Can will excel above where I am leaving. If you have given me 100 percent support, please give 300 percent to the new Comptroller. I have also urged him to show compassion when dealing with our freight forwarder community’’, Bashar said.

Comptroller Musa solicited for the support and cooperation of officers to enable him succeed in his mandate, while promising to sustain and improve on the achievements of his predecessor.

He assured that his doors will be open as he intends to run an all- inclusive administration.

“I will run a transparent, open door and all- inclusive administration’, the new Comptroller promised.

Comptroller Musa was the Controller of System Audit at the Customs headquarters, Abuja while Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, who was redeployed to the Customs Headquarters as Controller of the Pre- Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) ruling centre, has since resumed duties.

 Adeosun, Ameachi seek to share $1billion import and export funds

Funso Olojo || The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and her Transport counterpart, Rotimi Amaechi have presented a joint memo to the Federal Executive Council(FEC), seeking the approval of the presidency to access over $1billion accrued to the Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme(CISS) and Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme to enable them fund a new ICT deal at the ports.

While Adeosun seeks to use the money to funds the Customs automation process for efficient service delivery service by the Customs, Amaechi wanted the money for a similar purpose for the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA).

Both the Customs and NPA are two principal government agencies whose activities are crucial to port efficiency quality service delivery.

The one percent CISS was levied on all importation and served as payment to pre-shipment inspection and later destination inspection agents. However, the functions of the agents are now being carried out by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

Several maritime industry stakeholders have called for the abolition of the controversial levy but their calls have gone unheeded.
In a December 7, 2017 memo to FEC titled “Approval for the Establishment of the National Trade Platform, Joint Memorandum by Honourable Minister of Transportation and the Honourable Minister of Finance”, the duo are seeking to be allowed to take the one percent Free On Board (FOB) CISS paid by Nigerian importers and the 0.5 percent NESS paid by exporters as fees for export trade facilitation services as a way of generating more funds.
Over $1 billion accrued in the accounts of NESS and CISS that are domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria are being targeted for the project, which will involve a foreign firm, Mckinsery & Company.

The new deal and recent moves seek to oust Webb Fontaine Nigeria Limited that has been providing ICT backbone service to the Nigerian Customs Service.

The duo are seeking the approval of FEC for them to share the revenue already accrued into the CISS account  to fund yet to be registered NTP (74 percent for both the Single Window and Scanning Service) and the CISS Secretariat (26 percent for CISS administration).

Also, once the export related segment of the single window is incorporated, the existing Nigeria Export Supervision Scheme (NESS) will be distributed between NTP (74 percent) and NESS Secretariat (26 percent).
According to the memo, the proposal had earlier been presented to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential enabling business Environmental Council (PEBEC) meeting.

At the meeting, the Vice President reportedly constituted and inaugurated a steering committee that was co-chaired by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali and the Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman to work on the proposal.

FG chides Customs over invasion of markets for seizures

Funso Olojo ||The Federal government has expressed disgust and embarrassment at the incessant and often indiscriminate invasion of shops and open markets by the officers of the Nigeria Customs Service in a bid to make seizures.

Often times, the anti-smuggling patrol teams of the Federal operations Units of the Nigeria Customs Service, especially the Lagos zone ‘A’ unit, have incessantly raided in a military ‘sting’ operations, open markets and shops under the guise of seizing contraband goods, especially rice.

In the process, innocent Nigerians have either been killed or maimed.

The latest of such atrocious actions of the Lagos unit recently happened at Sango-Ota axis where a pregnant woman was hit by the strayed bullets of the trigger-happy Customs officers.

However, the Federal government may have given the top echelon of the Customs a stern warning not to engage in such an open display of naked force but to ensure that these contraband goods, especially rice, are intercepted at the borders before they enter the country.

Towards this end, the government has indicated its readiness to empower the Customs to carry out this onerous task, not unmindful of the porous nature of the Nigerian borders and the dearth of operational vehicles and other motivational equipment.

Consequently, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has secured an approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the princely sum of N2.32billion to procure 50 operational vehicles dedicated to fight rice smuggling.

According to the Minister, the sum of N1.2billion of the funds will be used to purchase these utility vehicles while the other N1.2billion will be used to procure befitting 81 units of two-bedroom flat to serve as Customs barracks in Abuja.

Adeosun stated that the procurement of the operational vehicles, which would be deployed to the anti-rice smuggling Task Force, was also meant to stop custom officials from invading markets to seize smuggled rice and harassing traders.

“The second approval was for the purchase of 50 vehicles and they are going to be deployed for an anti-rice smuggling Task Force that is being put together which Customs will be leading.

“As you know, our efforts to become major rice producers had resulted to the revival of local rice growers. But what we found was although that there was 90 per cent reduction in the official import of rice, smuggling has increased and of course our borders are very porous.

“We believe that to protect our farmers and to protect the investments that the people had made and gone back to the farm government must really act to stem the tide of illegal rice importation via smuggling.

“We felt that it is important we don’t want Customs going to seize rice in the markets. Customs should actually act to stop rice coming in at the border posts and Customs indicated that they need additional vehicles, additional resources as well as of course other more information-driven strategies to stop it,’’ she said.

According to her, the multi-agency task force on anti-rice smuggling, which has been in operation since July 2017, had been gathering information on how to check smuggling of rice into the country.

On the new barracks project, Adeosun expressed the hope that it would go a long way in addressing the accommodation challenges being experienced by the customs officials.

 

Terminal Operators express hope of end to Apapa traffic gridlock

The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has expressed optimism over the lingering Apapa traffic logjam which it hoped will reduce before the end of January 2018 as a result of decline in importation activities.

STOAN Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup said the reduction of the gridlock is not because any significant measure has been taken to address the cause of the problem, but due to an anticipated drop in importation.

“The last quarter of every year usually marks the peak of importation activities at the port. Now that the 2017 importation peak season is over, the number of trucks coming to the port is expected to reduce thereby providing temporary relief to road users.”, She observed.

She said the situation, however, means less cargo and less volume for the port especially in the first quarter of 2018.

Princess Haastrup said the off-peak period provides opportunity for the Federal and Lagos State governments to address the root cause of the gridlock.

“The reasons for the gridlock are along two major lines. One is that there is a proliferation of petroleum tankers due to the preponderance of fuel tank farms and petroleum depots in the Apapa community. This is an anomaly which should urgently be corrected by the Federal Government. The correction is to facilitate the distribution of petroleum products through pipelines, and not using trucks.

‘’Also, once government can get the refineries working, there will no longer be need for tank farms in Apapa, which attract these trucks.

“The other reasons for the gridlock are the dilapidated state of roads leading into and out of Apapa as well as the absence of truck parks.

“Government can address these by taking advantage of the off-peak season to intensify road rehabilitation works and make relevant provision for truck holding bays before the next cycle of high level activities sets in.

“There is also an opportunity to begin implementation of the much touted truck call up system to ensure that only trucks that have business to do at the port are granted access into Apapa.”, the STOAN chief stated.

Princess Haastrup urged the Federal Government to review its tariff policy on some imported items including vehicles, rice and fish to reduce smuggling.

The STOAN Chairman also said that the nation’s seaports have been positioned to support the Federal Government’s economic diversification and export drive.

“Terminal operators across the various ports have made substantial investments in the capital development of their various areas of operations. We have carried out major investments in terminal upgrades, acquisition of modern cargo handling equipment and training of port workers. All of these were done with the view of supporting government’s economic aspirations for the country, including the drive to diversify the nation’s economic base and promote non-oil export.” She cocluded.

Trigger-happy anti-smuggling patrol team of the Customs’ Federal mOperation Unit, Lagos, has  inflicted serious injuries on a nine-month-old pregnant woman in their pursuit of fleeing alleged  smugglers around Sango-Ota in Ogun state.

The woman who was initially left for dead was later rushed to a nearby hospital where he was placed on intensive care.

It was gathered that the Customs team tried to apprehend smugglers around the area but a group of young men trooped to the scene trying to prevent the arrest.

Information has it that the Customs officers while trying to escape, were eventually over powered and in desperation, began to shoot sporadically in a bid to escape the mob action;

However, in the process, one of the strayed bullets hit the woman said to be working with IBEDC company.

Two trigger-happy officers of the patrol team were said to have been detained at Obasanjo Farm police station but the FOU Spokesman, Jerry Attah, said they were only taken into custody for protection following the attack by the young men.
Attah, who resorted to blame game in a bid to exonerate the offending Customs Officers, said the two officers have since been released and that he has also spoken to both the woman and the doctor at the hospital where she was taken to.
Witnesses said operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) were on the trail of the LT bus suspected to be conveying smuggled rice.

One of the passengers, Yemi Saheed, said: “The vehicle is a commercial bus and we were coming from Sango-Ota and the driver of the bus stopped when he noticed the Customs vans trailing the bus. While we were still inside the bus, the driver alighted to inquire why he was being followed and about six Customs men that alighted from their vans surrounded our bus.”

The  driver, Ajayi Olayinka, said he was conveying the rice to Agege for the owner.

He said: “I am not a smuggler and I don’t ply the Idiroko border route. I ply Sango-Agege route every day and I am used to carrying goods including foodstuff for traders and passengers who purchased them at Sango Market. I had just five passengers and about 10 bags of rice which a trader asked me to convey to Agege. Suddenly, I noticed that some Customs men riding in two operational vehicles were following me and I stopped at Abule-Egba to inquire from them why they were trailing me unnecessarily.

‘’Two of the Customs men blocked my vehicle and demanded to know what I was having in the bus and I told them that I was conveying 10 bags of rice for a passenger.  As I was trying to explain further, their colleagues came down from their vans and shot indiscriminately at my bus knowing full well that there were passengers inside the vehicle. In the process, three passengers were hit while they beat me with the butt of their rifles. Unfortunately, one of the passengers, a boy, who was shot in the head died instantly while two others who sustained gunshot injuries have been taken to a General Hospital. And knowing the consequences of what they did, the Customs men immediately shot into the air and escaped from the scene.
The incident caused confusion but Rapid Response Squad (RRS) operatives promptly moved in to douse tension.
In a statement,  FOU’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jerry Attah,  said the Customs operatives were attacked by  suspected smugglers, who attempted   to resist arrest.

Attah disclosed that a bus with unspecified quantity of rice was being trailed by the Customs men  when the smugglers resorted to confrontation. Fortunately, he said, nobody died.

The statement reads : ‘’  On January 17 (yesterday), at about 05:30am, operatives of the FOU, acting on a tip-off, traced one LT bus loaded with unspecified bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice from Sango area and eventually stopped it at Abule-Egba.

‘’Before he was finally halted at Abule-Egba, the driver started shouting and making inciting comments that attracted mob action against the officers with different dangerous weapons such as broken bottles, stones and cutlasses. Obviously, he had driven to where he could get his associates to help attack the Customs officers.

‘’Given support of the mob, he resisted lawful arrest and the other armed operatives fired shots in the air to disperse the raging mob but to no avail. As a responsible organisation, the officers retreated to avoid any casualty.  We appreciate and thank God that no life was lost as at the time of the confrontation even though two of our officers sustained injuries.
‘’For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that a smuggler has evaded scrutiny either by following unapproved route or compromising any officer does not guarantee that the smuggled item will not be seized anywhere it is found by patrol officers whose duty is to ensure compliance.’’

The unorthodox methods of the anti-smuggling team of Lagos FOU have severally resorted to mayhem and pain to Nigerians who have always been on thwe receiving end of their operations.

NNPC gives nod for indigenous shipowners to lift crude oil

After several years of fruitless efforts to participate in the lucrative Nigeria’s crude oil affreightment, the hapless indigenous shipowners may now heave a sigh of relief as the hitherto recalcitrant Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) may have finally agreed to give them a window of opportunity to participate in the exercise.

The shift in its hitherto hardline posture followed the engagement of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), shipowners and other stakeholders had with the NNPC top officials recently in Abuja.

At the forum, all the parties involved agreed it was high time there was a change in trade terms from Free On Board (FOB) to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) which would enable indigenous ship owners to begin to lift Nigeria crude and ultimately boost indigenous capacity.

At the interactive forum which was declared open by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister noted that the issue on this trade term is an aged long challenge that has lingered too far and charged participants to come out with resounding resolutions that would be of National benefit.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside who presented a paper titled, The Imperatives of Changing Nigeria’s Crude Oil Affreightment Trade Terms From FOB to CIF pointed out that the Changing landscape of Nigeria’s maritime sector viz-a-viz its security architecture, capacity and other determinants has necessitated the Change now than ever before.

Dakuku stated further that the CIF if implemented will “encourage indigenous fleet expansion, lead to massive job creation for qualified Nigerian Seafarers, create opportunities for mandatory sea time experience for Nigerian cadets and build expertise and competence in international shipping trade”

According to him “Nigeria is one of the major exporters of oil and gas resource in the world, and she averages an output of 1.92 million barrels of crude oil per day so this volume generates huge freight for carriers. Regrettably, Indigenous shipping operators have insignificant share of the freight earned from the carriage of Nigeria’s crude compared to foreign counterparts”. The DG lamented.

Dr. Dakuku also stated that OPEC nations such as Iran, Indonesia, Algeria, Kuwait, Angola, Venezuela, UAE and Libya allow indigenous operators to participate actively in shipment of the crude oil, stating that with the right policies in place Nigeria can build its own capacity and one of this is the change of terms of trade for Nigeria’s benefit.

Also speaking at the event the Group Managing Director of the NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru stated that the Corporation does not have any reason not to allow Nigerians lift crude that there were conditions which made NNPC opt for the FOB trade. He however noted that the NNPC also sees benefits in the CIF trade term but processes have to be followed which may include transition period before finally opting for the CIF trade term.

Shipowners and major stakeholders who spoke at the engagement lauded the initiative. Barr. Temisan Omatseye a former DG of NIMASA who is also a Ship owner pointed out that there is a lot of benefit in the CIF trade term. He stated further that that it would eliminate crude theft, create employment and ultimately compliment the diversification drive of the Federal Government.

In the same vein, the President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) and Managing Director of Starz Marine Group, Engineer Greg Ogbeifun observed that what is needed to make the great CIF initiative to grow the Nigerian shipping industry and the economy is the needed Government support, which is coming at the right time, when the country wants it most to diversify the economy.

All other stakeholders who spoke at the event including leading members of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) and Master Mariners unanimously agreed that the CIF trade term would be more beneficial to the country than the present FOB on which the crude lifting is currently based upon.

It could be recalled that the NNPC has for several years frustrated the attempts of the indigenous ship owners to break into the lucrative business of crude oil affreightment which has been in the vice grip of foreign carriers.

The NNPC has based its refusal to yield ground on its allegation that the indigenous carriers lacked the requisite technical capacity and necessary capital outlay which such business that is highly technical entails.

However, with the latest truce between both parties, it would be a matter of time before the local carriers break into the big league of crude oil lifting.

 

 Customs places 577 officers on retirement notice

About 577 officers of the Nigeria Customs Service would soon be weeded out of the service on accout of age and the mandatory years of service.

According to the circular erroneously dated 27 January 2017 and titled CIRCULAR NO/HRD/2017/003-LIST OF OFFICERS/MEN FOR STATUTORY RETIREMENT IN YEAR 2018 and signed by Sulaiman, M.S.J, Comptroller Establishments on behalf of the Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali, (rtd), one Deputy Comptroller General and an Assistant Comptroller General, 11Comptrollers, 27 Deputy Comptrollers, 27 Assistant Comptrollers and 23 Chief Superintendents of Customs were placed on retirement notice.
This is even as Ali has approved the promotion of three management chiefs made up of one Deputy Comptroller General and two Assistant Comptrollers- General.

This is in addition to the redeployment of eight senior officers, a move the Customs authority said was meant to further strengthen the service capacity and consolidate on its bold gains in the year just ended.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Customs, Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah in a statement he signed on behalf of Comptroller-General, said the postings were in response to the spectacular performance of the service last years and designed to further fortify its operational capacities for the New Year, noting that the postings’ takes immediate effect.
Amongst those promoted in acting capacity is Isa Talatu Mairo, erstwhile Assistant Comptroller General to the rank of Deputy Comptroller General, the Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone C, Comptroller Amajam Bukar was elevated to the rank of Assistant Comptroller General, while Comptroller David Elisha Chikan also bagged the Assistant Comptroller General rank.

While Mairo becomes the DCG (Tariff and Trade), Bukar is ACG (Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection), and Chikan is ACG (Human Resources and Development).
Other rank and file listed on the retirement notice includes 5 CIC ‘T’, 21 CIC, 21 SC, 36 DCIC, 23 DCS, 121 ACIC, 4 ACIC1, 131 DIC and 1 ASC11. The others are 83 SIC, 2 CCA ‘T’, 18 IC, 6 CCA, 3 AIC, 2 SCA and 1 CA. The affected officers are disengaging either on the basis of mandatory 60 years of age or 35 years in service, in line with the civil service rules.
They are expected to furnish the headquarters with their notice of retirement on or before end of March this year, just as the Col. Ali led management insisted that all those due for retirement must proceed on the mandatory three months pre-retirement leave, starting March 2018.
Those redeployed includes DCG Chidi Augustine from Excise, Industrial, Incentives and Free Trade Zone to Strategic Research and Policy, DCG Iferi Patience (PhD) from Strategic Research and Policy to Excise, Industrial, Incentives and Free Trade Zone, ACG Sarki-Umar Folashade from Excise, Industrial, Incentives and Free Trade Zone to Strategic Research and Policy and ACG Enwereuzor Frances, from Strategic Research and Policy to Zone D headquarters.

Others are former Coordinator of the CGC’s Compliance Team, Comptroller Azarema Ahmed, who takes over at Federal Operations Unit Zone C, Comptroller Odibu Christopher former Customs Area Controller, Ikorodu Lighter Terminal Command, now in charge of the Oyo/Osun area Command, while Deputy Comptroller Adeniran J.O formerly of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection at the Headquarters takes control at Ikorodu Lighter Terminal.

Attah in his statement said, “The CGC charged the affected officers to see their appointments as opportunities to contribute their best towards consolidating the gains of the ongoing reforms in the Service”.

Our investigation revealed that some of the 577 officers listed in the retirement notice have already proceeded on their pre-retirement leaves.
Meanwhile, the Customs management has dismissed five officers from service for their alleged involvement in illegal importation of firearms into the country.

At the time of their arrest, all five officers were attached to the Lagos area.

Operatives of the Nigeria Customs service in January 2017 intercepted a 20-feet container load of arms. When it was searched, a total of 661 automatic pump action rifles, which were carefully concealed behind steal doors, were recovered.

Eight persons including five officers of the service, the clearing agent, the driver of the truck and his conductor were arrested.

Soon after the seizure was made, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, ordered a full scale investigation into the circumstance surrounding the illegal importation.

Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, who made this disclosure, said that the five officers were dismissed at the end of the trial.

Attah said that after their dismissal, the five officers and their accomplices were arraigned in an open court.

 

The management team of Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) has continued to maintain sealed lips over the allegation of secret recruitment of staff it carried out last year, thus defiling all entreaties by some agitating workers and stakeholders to extract official position of the agency on the vex issue.

It was gathered that the agency conducted a discreet employment of about 100 job seekers who were predominantly from a section of the country.

According to an impeccable source, about 90 percent of those discreetly employed are from the North and employed with Senior School Certificates qualification while the remaining ones who are from the South were employed on First Degree Certificate qualification.

All calls and text messages sent to three top media officers at the agency’s Corporate and Strategic Communication department led by  Abdullahi Goje, were not answered.

However, the silence being maintained by the management which some stakeholders considered as official conspiracy has enraged a cross section of the NPA workers who have dragged the Hadiza Usman-led management team to the Presidency.

In their petition to President Buhari dated December 28th, 2017, and titled ‘’Request for investigation into the allegations of Secret Recruitment at the NPA by the present management’’, the agitating workers pleaded with the presidency to institute a probe into the matter.

In the petition, the workers state “We wish to request that Your Excellency institutes a probe into this unwholesome practice by the present NPA management so as to uphold the tenets of the present administration.

‘’While we fully support the need to inject fresh blood and young hands into NPA, this must be done transparently and in according with statutory provisions. All Nigerians must be given equal opportunity to apply and be considered on merit for such employment in the Authority.

“As an agency of the Federal Government, NPA is bound to abide by rules pertaining to employment into the federal civil service and the Federal Character Commission.

“To ensure adherence to these provisions of the law, the Federal Character Commission established clear-cut guidelines for MDAs to follow in their recruitment processes. These procedures include the requirement that the spread of all vacancies to be filled shall be predetermined in relation to the current levels of federal character representation by states or zones, at a joint meeting of the agency and the FCC.

“NPA management is also required to ensure, and provide comprehensive job description (academic qualifications and cognate experience) required for each vacant position. All vacancies must also be advertised in at least two newspapers circulating nationally, giving prospective candidates, a minimum of six weeks within which to apply.

“We, however, note disturbing media reports and protests in certain parts of the country, which suggest that the process of ongoing recruitments in NPA has neither been transparent nor have been in compliance with statutory provisions. For instance, some youths protested in Kano on November 9, 2017, alleging that secret interviews and recruitments were being conducted at Tahir Guest House without public knowledge.

“Obviously, if the recruitment process had been made open and transparent, no section of the Nigerian society would have had cause to embark on such protest. Indeed, we have it on good ground that those who were invited to the interview at Tahir Guest House were only privileged children of the affluent in the society.”

The workers stated that while they were not opposed to the employment of new hands into the organization, the process should be done transparently with all qualified Nigerians given equal opportunity to participate.

Similar secret recruitment which caused public outrage was carried out at the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) last year.