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100 Days Mark: Contraband Goods Won’t Be Able To Get Into Market – CGC

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…Wale Adeniyi Pledges to Adopt and Deploy Geospatial Intelligence in Tackling Illicit Traders***

When an Intelligent and highly informed Acting CGC with Zero tolerance for Smuggling is in the Driver’s Seat, woe betides every potential Smuggler. Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR) in a One -on- One opens up, as he marks his 100th Day in Office, and vividly gives a picture of why Nigerian Smugglers may soon run out of business, as he pledges to leverage Technology, particularly, Geospatial Intelligence!

Excerpt please:- 

The C.G.C, we appreciate the unimaginable depth of Commitment you have brought to your mandate. You have been everywhere and for three weeks, even daring journalists could not keep pace with you. So our first question would be, how has it been, manning and justifying the onerous responsibility that comes with this very hard mandate? 

Well, we thank God, even though, it’s not been easy. 

But, it’s something that one has been used to, in terms of the pace and in terms of the depth of those visits all over. 

Though it hasn’t been easy. But then, these are familiar places for us. These are places we know. We know the strategic importance of some of these places. And we know how strategic; the kind of critical success factor it constitutes.

So we have to visit them. You know that Zone A accounts for virtually 70 percent of our operations.  It accounts for more in terms of revenue. So, unlike in those days when you can do Zone ‘A’ in two, or three days, you need more than a week to do Zone A now.

So that was how I had to be everywhere. The ports, the airports, the border stations. For those that I could not complete during that visit, I  came back, took a breather, and came back to work in Abuja. After a week or so, I went back to complete them.

You also know of those strategic borders in the north and the northwest, and then, I needed to go to those places and have a first-hand feel of what was happening there.

 Unfortunately, while all this was going on, we had an unfolding situation in Niger (Republic) and a significant decision that needed to be implemented.  And that entailed a very tough decision about our borders. And since this decision was taken, it has to be implemented.

The implementation has to be evaluated and assessed periodically. So that we could present the report of the monitoring to Mr. President. So, there was no choice.

 The pace was definitely frenetic at the beginning. And I thank God for His grace, for good health. We were able to accomplish all of that to the glory of God. 

Let me shoot this question: You would recall that in the past, there was a time when some of the officers from Kaduna, Katsina side, and especially Kano, were alleged to be tinkering with hard drugs. What is the situation now?  How do you intend to handle such a situation in the future?  

I think it’s a national malaise. It’s a problem. It’s a big problem that has its national dimension. It’s not just about the North. During the course of my tour, we had so many seizures. We equally conducted some targeted sting operations around the southwest border.

 We knew that once the border in the north against the Niger Republic was closed, there would be attempts to divert one or two things towards the southwestern border. So we did a covert operation around all of these places, targeting the diversion of food items.

But then, we got so many seizures of ammunition and drugs. 

So we can’t deceive ourselves that Nigeria is a transit country for those drugs. A number of those things are going to be consumed in Nigeria.  

Whether they are done in the north, or whether they are done in the south or in the east, it doesn’t really matter. The fact is that a good number of those drugs are finding patronage in Nigeria.

And it does call for concern. So whichever organisation is hit by that scourge must take very definitive and deliberate action to manage it. 

So we’ve had that situation in the past, when so many of our young officers were caught on the wrong side of drug abuse and the management then took a hard decision to say, look, these are people who will still be of use to their society, to the Service, and to their nation. 

 And the decision was taken to rehabilitate them. And working with some other government agencies and partners, we were able to do that.

That was an era, some 6, 7, 8 years ago. If you are presented with the same situation now, I am not too sure if that decision, the same decision will be taken. 

But then, it was a management decision taken at that time, and we have to respect the wisdom of those who are in the management.

If you are going to leverage on IT and technology, automatically you must also start thinking of the days when Customs was heavily endowed with helicopters and things like that. So I may ask, what exactly is the situation with the helicopters now? Especially now, that you are focusing at leveraging on IT and on technology?

If you look at Customs operations as it has evolved over the years; we started with people bringing hand-filled declarations to Customs Long Rooms.

From there we progressed to people typing them, and then you move them from one place to another, one window to another, all of that, in a very long room. 

But gradually, with the introduction of automation, we started reducing those processes and things like that. And everywhere in the world, Customs operations are undergoing that kind of digitalization. So we are also not resting in Nigeria to ensure that we become fully paperless in our transactions.

And we are already on course on that journey.

 If you look at how we started: people bringing in cargo, the ships coming in, the aircrafts coming in, the national summits progressing into, doing manifests electronically…

Now, we don’t have the kind of big manifests that we used to have in striking seats in those days any longer. Now when the manifest comes in electronically, importers through their agents can make their declarations also online.

When declarations are made online, you can do assessments online, and then you get your notice of payment, and then you can make your payments online. So all of these have been done. When a release is done, it can be communicated to the terminal operator electronically.

Similarly, Exit Notes can be generated electronically; the shipping company can send you what you are going to pay, and then you pay it electronically and all of that. Also, the payment system has equally undergone a complete transformation. 

So in all of these, there could be some interventions in between one process or the other. Look at terminal operators for example. 

When you finish your clearing and a release is communicated to terminal operators, terminal operators may now have Customs Agents coming over their window, collecting Release Notes, the TDO (Terminal Delivery Order), what do you call it, and then… on and on. 

Some aspects may not be automated. But we are also finding ways in which we can have APIs between us and all these other agencies. So,it would be just like plugging into our system, so that once we release, we can release to them and then it is automatic.

So, it is a process. 

With all the stakeholders in the system, using these tools, these innovations are to enhance our jobs, to make our jobs more efficient, so as to create a better experience for our importers of course, and for our exporters.

 So, that’s how far technology can help us.

 But more importantly, technology can also help us now to go behind the scenes and conduct a number of audits, and to do some kind of investigations.

And because all these things are done online, it’s easier for us to also use technology to take a second look at what we did yesterday, what we did last week or, what we did last year, and to ensure due processes were followed. Or to double-check, whether there are some contraventions and things like that. 

So, we are also strengthening those parts by making sure that those post-clearance audits are inculcated in our system.

 Outside of those systems, when you talk about enforcement, it is also possible that we will integrate more technology into our enforcement.

For instance, if you look at the issue of our checkpoints, Stakeholders for some time now, have been complaining that from Seme to Lagos, depending on who is counting, what time they are counting, or who they counted with and things like that… Any number between 40 and 80, that’s what they’re flying. 

And yet, if you talk to all these agencies, including Customs, they will tell you that look, because of the terrain, people can come in through the Creeks; they can burst out at Badagry, they can burst out at Agbara, they can burst out at Elassa, or they can go all the way to Lagos Island and come into all the markets through the Creeks and things like that!

So, it does make sense, as some would say: yes, if they’re coming through Idiroko, they can also come through the Creeks of Ipokia, and then from there, they can get to Ojoo Road, and boom, they’re out there in Lagos…!

I can go on and on.

But we have technology that can help us to map all these routes and help us to identify (in all these), where are the convergents, where do all these routes converge.

So even if you want to come through the Creeks, yes? There is no Creek that leads straight to, say, this or that particular market in Lagos or Ojoo Road. 

Again, let’s say: it is Alaba Market that you are going to; You must first come out somewhere. So, (it’s like) If you’re coming through this, you must (first) come out somewhere. In other words, we can now use geospatial intelligence!

Geospatial is a co-occurrence of elements of geography and then space. 

So, all the various landmarks, the markets, the bridges, the buildings, the rivers, it has taken care of all of them. So if in our operations, we have a geospatial map of the entire place, by using those tools, we can be able to determine what is the convergence point of all these places.

*The starting point: a decoration by Vice President Shettima, a gesture that instantly sent core maritime stakeholders, into wild, but justifiable exhilarating euphoria!

So, instead of deploying patrols, and checkpoints to track all these places, you can now concentrate on the convergence points!

That means: Oh, okay, if you are coming by the creeks: Welcome! It’s okay because we have people, somebody around the very important points.

And, if you are coming by the road; Welcome.

 It becomes okay, even if you went through any routes in so far as your destination is this Market or that.

So, even if you are coming out through Iba. It will still be welcome! That’s a typical way in which geospatial intelligence can help us. 

We are already beginning to familiarize Customs decision-makers, the Controllers, the ACGs, and the DCGs, with the potential that is inherent in the use of this technology. And when they are sufficiently educated on this, it won’t be difficult for them to use it as a basis for making decisions.

And then, those decisions can now be passed on to the Patrol Officers. And they too, we are also now going to expose (patrol officers) to those tools.

 There are some little, little things that people also need to understand. They need to understand Map reading. This is the map of each Area. These are the routes. These are the roads. How would people (Smugglers) come? Why would they prefer to pass through each particular road?

 If these people are aware that there is a Customs checkpoint in Gbaji, then Where are the other routes they can take? Questions like that must be asked…

So, they need to have some elements of map reading skills. They just need to understand how to use some navigational aids. So if you get caught up somewhere and you don’t know where you are any longer, but if you have some navigational aids and maps, you’ll be able to say, okay, let me track. 

Either we go back to our base or ask: where’s the nearest river? Where’s the nearest telecom mast or where we can get network? Where’s the nearest police station? You know, all those kinds of things. So, they need to also get their knowledge of these.

So this is a whole menu of how technology can make us truly effective. This is technology that is otherwise, also used in other fields of human endeavor. 

It is being used in rescue management, disaster management, agriculture, fighting Climate Change, and things like that. 

But we have found its applicability in Customs operations, especially in postmortem. That’s why we are embracing it. And we are positive that we are going to get very good results in that!

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MWUN Congratulates PTML Management On Acquisition Of MV Great Lagos

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*MV Great Lagos

…Describes ship as a marvel of modern engineering

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) under the leadership of its President-General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, has congratulated the Managing Director of Grimaldi Shipping Company, Mr. Ascanio Ruso, and his management for acquiring “MV GREAT LAGOS”, noting that it is the first of its kind in Nigeria.

The ship is described as a marvel of modern engineering with functions of environmental consciousness built to meet the challenges of modern-day technology in the maritime industry.

“This suffices to say that Ascanio Ruso is one of the best maritime administrators in Nigeria, who treats workers in his employ with humane and dignity for labour,” Adeyanju, a Prince of Ibaan further stated.

NLC: MWUN President-General, Adeyanju, to vie for Deputy National President post

“I wish to categorically state here again that Mr. Ascanio is a wonderful Managing Director with a human face and one of the foremost employers of labour in the industry. Your blood flows with genuine intentions of fair treatment to workers’ welfare in the maritime space.

*MV Great Lagos

“We in the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria Congratulate you on this laudable milestone achievement. Once again, we say congratulations to Mr. Ascanio Ruso and your management team,” Prince Adeyanju said.

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Economy

Makinde Presents N434.2bn 2024 Budget Proposal For Oyo State

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PDP’s Agboworin wins House of Representatives re-run election in Oyo

 Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Tuesday presented a budget of N434.2 billion for 2024 to the State House of Assembly for consideration and approval.

According to Makinde, the budget is made up of N222.3 billion for capital expenditure, and N211.8 billion for recurrent expenditure.

Presenting the budget tagged: “Budget of Economic Recovery”, the governor said the capital expenditure is 2.4 percent higher than the recurrent expenditure.

He added that the 2024 budget was estimating an increased Internally Generated Revenue of N72 billion with an average of N6 billion monthly.

Education gets the highest share of the budget with N90.6 billion or 20.8 percent of the budget, followed by Infrastructure which gets N74.3 billion or 17.1 percent of the appropriation bill.

The health sector takes the third position with N40.9 billion, which is 9.4 percent and Agriculture has N15.8 billion, which is 3.6 percent of the total budget proposal.

PDP’s Agboworin wins House of Representatives re-run election in Oyo

*Governor Seyi Makinde

He promised that the 2024 budget would cover projects, policies, and actions “which when implemented will cushion the effect t of the hardship the people are facing as a result of fuel subsidy removal.”

Makinde further said that his administration would continue to use technology to block loopholes, saying his government has no plan to increase taxes.

He urged the House of Assembly to see to the speedy passage of the budget proposal for the state’s economic growth and benefit of the people of Oyo State.

Responding after the presentation, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr ‘Debo Ogundoyin (PDP Ibarapa East) assured the governor of speedy consideration of the Appropriation Bill.

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Latest News

Reps Committee Issues Warrant Of Arrest On CBN Governor, Others

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..Following their alleged refusal to appear, four times when invited

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition has issued a warrant of arrest on the Central Bank Governor, Mr Olayemi Cardoso, the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, and 17 others for refusing to appear before it to answer questions on their operations.

This followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. Fred Agbedi (PDP-Bayelsa) at the committee’s hearing on Tuesday.

Moving the motion, Agbedi said that the arrest warrant had become inevitable following the attitude of the invitees.

He said that the parliament worked with time and the CEOs had been invited four times but failed to respond.

He said that the CEOs should be brought to appear before the committee by the Inspector General of Police through a warrant of arrest after due diligence by the Speaker, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas.

Forex inflow: CBN tasks banks to support indigenous companies

In his ruling, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Micheal Irom (APC-Cross River)  said that the I-G should ensure the CEOs were brought before the committee on Dec. 14.

Earlier, the petitioner, Mr Fidelis Uzowanem, said that the petition was anchored on the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report of 2021.

He said that the report was a summary of the transactions in the oil and gas industry for 2021 which NEITI could to be challenged.

“We took up the challenge to examine the report and discovered that what NEITI put together is a report is only a consolidation of fraud that has been going on in the oil and gas industry.

“It dates back to 2016 because was have been following and we put up a petition to this committee to examine what has happened.

“The 2024 budget of 27.5 trillion that has been proposed can be confidently be funded from the recoverable amount that we identified in the NEITI report.

“It is basically a concealment of illegal transactions that took place in NNPCL, they have been in the sink with some oil companies where some companies that did not produce crude were paid cash call, an amount paid for crude oil production,” he said.
He added: “We also found that the cash core payment was used as a channel for laundering funds by NNPCL and we found out that NEITI was able to conceal it in its report.

“In 2021 NEITI reported that Total Exploration and Production Nigeria-Ltd was paid 168 million dollars but examination of submission by the company shows that it received 292 million dollars.

“In other words, 124 million dollars were laundered by NNPCL through Total because monies that have been officially paid to Total could not have been concealed if it were not meant for fraudulent purposes.

“Also for Chevron, the dollar payment NEITI puts forward in its report was 76 million dollars but document emanating from Chevron showed that they received as much as 267 million dollars.”

“In other words, 191 million was laundered under the cover of Chevron and NEITI concealed that; also, Nigeria Agip Company received 188 million dollars but none of it was reported by NEITI”.

Some of those to be arrested were the Chief Executive Officer of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), that of Ethiop Eastern Exploration and Production Company Ltd, as well as the CEO of Western Africa Exploration and Production.

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