- As Wanted Customs officers surrender
The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has invited the shipping line and terminal operator, Maersk Line, and AP Moller for questioning over alleged involvement in the shipment and clearance of 661 rifles seized by the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, of the service.
Meanwhile, three officers declared wanted by the service have surrendered themselves at the office of the FOU. The three suspects are Abdullahi I, with service number 44483 ASC; Odiba Inah, with service number 133386 ACIC, both of whom were earlier declared wanted and one Yola I.B whose service number could not be ascertained.
Similarly, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, has emphasised the need for the Customs to invest more on infrastructure at the ports and border areas, stating that huge investment in infrastructure relating to tools for trade facilitation at the ports and border areas, will reduce the risk of escapes of illegal arms.
Deputy National President Seaport of NAGAFF, Obums Anene, in a statement, yesterday, said: “Let it be on record that the major problem facing Customs operations is the inability of importers to comply with import and export regulations. In this regard, it is our view that laws are made to be obeyed and respected by the stakeholders and in particular, the importers and exporters.”
Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer of FOU, Jerry Atta, disclosed that the three officers were being interrogated, adding that the service was determined to get to the bottom of offensive import.
According to Atta, the three officers “voluntarily reported themselves. There is another one that was declared wanted, yesterday, he also reported himself voluntarily.”
On the shipping line that brought in the shipment, he said: “It is Maersk Line, they have also been invited to tell us their role and also the terminal operator (APM Terminal).”
He also confirmed that the importer, clearing agent, and escort, who were arrested along with the arms cargo on Monday, were also making useful statements, saying appropriate action will be taken at the end of investigations.
Some operators have questioned the concessioning of the terminals to companies that have affiliates as shipping company, noting that it makes it easy to beat the system if need be.
However, a front line freight forwarder and Managing Director of Shibab Service Limited, Babatunde Shittu, noted that their involvement in the management of the terminal was not responsible for the clearance of the offensive items.