…As Burkina Faso president says “Africa has chosen China,”***
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Wednesday inaugurated a committee to investigate the illegal importation of military wears including camouflages, boots, T-shirts and other items into the country.
The Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joseph Attah, who broke the news in a statement, said that the ceremony was held in Abuja.
According to the statement, “Following Seizures of Military Hard wears by Operatives of Nigeria Customs Service in recent times, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) has inaugurated a high powered investigation panel under the Chairmanship of ACG Sanusi Umar to conduct a very thorough investigation with a view to fishing out all those connected to the unholy importations.”
The statement recalled that within the last one month, Officers and Men of the NCS Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘C’ and Operatives of the Onne Area II Command Port-Harcourt at different times, intercepted a (2X40ft) containers, MRSU 3040288 and MRKU 4909151 found to contain Military Camouflages and other items on the 27th July 2018 and 16th August 2018 respectively.
It added that while the first interception was found to contain 11 bales, each containing 400 pairs of new set of military camouflage uniform totaling 4400 sets, the second interception was found to contain 620 sets of completely sewn military camouflage uniform and caps, 10,100 pieces of inner military T-Shirts, 512 pairs of military jungle boots contrary to Schedule 4(13) of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff which falls under Absolute Prohibition and Section 46(b) of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
Attah noted that while inaugurating the committees, Ali said, “even though preliminary investigations have led to the arrest of five persons including the importer of both consignments, it is imperative that a painstaking investigation is conducted to unravel all those who are remotely connected to the criminal importations with a view to punishing offenders and preventing reoccurrence”.
The statement said that consequently a high powered committee to be chaired by the Zonal Coordinator Zone ‘C’ Headquarters, ACG Sanusi Umar, comprising ACG E,I&I, ACG Bukar Amajam, DC Olomu B.O, AC Okonmah, S Mr. J.O Oloworaran – DIA and Barrister T.K Wudapba – NCS Legal Adviser has been set up with the following terms of reference:
The committee was assigned to investigate through the concerned parties, all alleged breaches of the Customs Import Clearance Procedure as set out in our extant law/statute books.
Ali asked the panel to also investigate and establish the full facts of the case in relation to the importation of both containers (MRSU 3040288 and MRKU 4909151).
It was also mandated to identify all parties involved in the unholy importations and establish their degree of culpabilities.
The NCS tasked the owner on profiling all importation previously made by the sole importer or his cronies with the intent of discovering if possibly, this has been a trend.
The Customs boss asked the committee to make recommendation to the NCS Management on the way forward with the case based on the investigations made.
Ali charged the panel to liaise with other security agencies, should the need arise during the course of the investigation.
Responding on behalf of the Committee members, the Chairman of the panel, ACG Sanusi Umar thanked the CGC and the members of the Management for the confidence repose in them and gave the assurance of a very thorough investigation that will leave no stone unturned. He said, as Nigerians and Officers of the NCS, whose personal safeties and professional integrities can be negatively affected by these criminal importations, they will stop at nothing to bring back quality report.
In the meantime, Burkina Faso will strengthen cooperation with China in all areas as Africa-China relations develop for mutual benefit, President Roch Kabore said.
Kabore, whose country resumed diplomatic ties with Beijing in late May, will pay a state visit to China from Thursday to Sept. 5, during which he will also attend the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
“For us, this trip is an important mission as it will help build up and consolidate the two countries’ relationship, which is founded on win-win, legal and transparency principles,” Kabore said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The president said it will also help the two sides select priorities and see how they can make headway together.
“We expect to reinforce cooperation with China in all areas,” he said, expecting a partnership “as broad as possible.”
As for China’s relations with all of Africa, Kabore said Africa-China cooperation is based on the principles of mutual benefit, equal opportunity and the need to develop international trade.
“We don’t have any regrets about this existing China-Africa cooperation, which is developing day by day in favor of our respective peoples,” he said.
“Africa has chosen China … It is our choice and we stick to that.”
He said Africa can learn from China’s success in developing into the second largest economy in the world, and the China-championed notion of building a community with a shared future for mankind will promote Africa-China ties.
Kabore called the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative a “sound initiative” intended to develop infrastructure links and boost trade between different countries.
“I think it is an initiative that should be supported,” he said, adding that it will probably take some time but is an initiative “which is necessary if we want to develop international trade.”
Regarding the rising protectionism and unilateralism in the world, the president said the upcoming China-Africa summit “shows the interest of multilateralism.”
“This is what we have always defended together because protectionism in our current times raises problems as it is a real threat to international and world peace,” he said.
“Therefore, the holding of this summit is a real success as we tell supporters of protectionist policies that we have opted for multilateralism.”
Additional report from The Nation