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ABUJA GMSC: Security takes front burner as 38 Navies and 27 Coast Guards storm Nigeria

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ABUJA GMSC: Security takes front burner as 38 Navies and 27 Coast Guards storm Nigeria

Security issues will expectedly be on the front burner in Nigeria next week as the Nigeria opens her gate on Monday to welcome 38 Navies and 27 Coast Guards at Abuja at the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) specially organized to address pertinent security issues in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We have full representation. We have navies from 38 countries coming for the conference, including two Rear Admirals from the United States. The global naval community is well represented at the conference. We are also bringing the Head of Liberian Coast Guard, we are bringing the heads of coast guards from 27 countries. We have clearly confirmed over 500 foreigners coming for the conference and over 2,000 persons have registered for the Global Maritime Security Conference,” Dakuku Peterside, the Director General, Maritime Administration and Safety Agency highlighted while speaking on the issue.

Pointing out that a robust collection of international maritime security stakeholders have confirmed their attendance for the Abuja event, Dr. Peterside decried the scourge of maritime insecurity, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, noting the urgent need for international collaboration to tackle the menace, while emphasizing that the conference would come up with a formal declaration on solutions to maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Also read:  Senate directs security agencies to intensify security on waterways

“Dealing with the issues of piracy and maritime crime requires inter-agency collaboration as well as regional collaboration between sister agencies in the participating countries,” he stated adding that about eight Chiefs of Naval Staff from Africa, 16 representatives of Chiefs of Naval Staff from the continent, and representatives of Chiefs of Naval Staff from Brazil, United States, and some European countries were expected at the conference.

“This is a tactical conference between developing countries, developed countries and high international partners to find solution to a problem that is affecting global commerce”, Dakuku Peterside who is also Chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) said, adding:

“Ninety per cent of commerce is conducted via seaborne trade, so whatever affects seaborne trade affects global commerce and has direct impact on development and quality of living of a people.

From right: The DG NIMASA Dr, Dakuku Peterside, MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, Permanent secretary Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, the honorable minister of transportantion Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki and the Chairman House committee on Maritime Transport Education and Administration, Hon Linda Ikpeazu at the celebration of the 2019 world Maritime Day

 

“At the end of the conference, we are expected to come up with the Abuja Declaration on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea, which will be a document that will be a consensus agreement of all participants regarding what needs to be done to address the deteriorating situation. There will be a defined roadmap to deal with maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea”, he said, during a live interview monitored on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), stressing that getting global institutions, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and nations of the world to partner in order to make a clear statement on how to deal with the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea was the ultimate goal of the forum.

The conference is being hosted by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy. It is the first of its kind in the Gulf of Guinea and follows in the tradition of similar events held globally.

The objectives of the conference include defining the precise nature and scope of coordinated regional responses to maritime insecurity, evaluating the relevance of various external interventions, and moving towards policy harmonisation and regional cooperation.

The conference is equally expected to tackle cyber security threats, while advocating deeper global commitment to the deployment of resources for ending maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea region in the shortest time possible.

 

 

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Customs Hands-over N704.5m Hemp To NDLEA

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NDLEA arrests India-bound businessman with 9.40kg heroin in Lagos

The Western Marine Command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has handed over 1.7 million wraps of hemp it seized to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Lagos.

Handing over the seizures to NDLEA in Lagos on Monday, the Customs Controller of the Western Marine Command, Odaudu Salefu, said that the hemp was worth N704.5 million.

“The 1266,120 wrapped of cannabis contained in 120 bags and is hereby handed over to NDLEA today.

“The cannabis is seized in three different operations at Jegemo Island, opposite Iworo Ajido Waterfront and Asipa Beach along Seme borders on the 29th of November, 2023, 24th of December, 2023 and 19th of January, 2024.

“After we got the intelligence, our officers sailed into the water Jegemo Island at 2:00 a.m. and they took to their heels, while we intercepted the cannabis including their boats and three engine pumps.

“The CGC, Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, has directed the Western Marine Command to hand over a total of 120 sacks containing 10,551 loaves of cannabis sativa with a total value of  704,518,000 to Nigeria Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for further agency action.

“Today’s event is a product of the hard work, dedication, and bravery of my officers, who have worked with diligence and integrity to puncture the reign of smugglers of these hard drugs,” Salefu said.

The customs controller said that the Western Marine Command of Nigerian Customs Service was the flagship Marine Command of the Service.

According to him, the command is one of the four Marine Commands of Nigeria Customs Service, charged with the responsibility of securing the Western Waterways against smuggling activities and unwholesome trade practices.

Salefu said that the command also facilitated legitimate trades in its area of responsibility that run across three states in Western Nigeria, which include Lagos, Ogun, and Ondo states.

Salefu emphasised the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the NCS and NDLEA to enhance cooperation in addressing drug trafficking at Nigeria’s entry and exit points.

He attributed the successful seizure to the command’s extensive intelligence network and collaborative efforts.

Salefu reiterated the commitment of the Western Marine Command to protect the nation’s economic interests by partnering with other agencies.

He urged citizens to refrain from engaging in illegal cross-border trade due to its detrimental effects on the economy and public health.

Upon receiving the seized hemp, Mr. Paul Ahom, the Narcotic Commander of the NDLEA, emphasised the collective responsibility in combating drug trafficking.

He acknowledged the customs officers’ effort in intercepting the drugs and expressed readiness for further collaboration to tackle smuggling activities effectively.

Ahom thanked the Director-General of NDLEA, Buba  Maruwa in ensuring the menace of illicit drugs was reduced while seeking more collaboration to end it as it endangers the lives of the youth in the society.

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Customs Announces 90-Day Window To Pay Duty On Improperly Imported Vehicles

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…As CGC Jump-starts 2-Day ICT/ Upgrade Retreat for Management Team

In a proactive move to enhance compliance and streamline import processes, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), under the directive of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, has announced a 90-day window for regularizing import duties on specific categories of vehicles.

This initiative applies solely to vehicles imported into Nigeria where the requisite Customs duty has not been fulfilled or vehicles detained due to undervaluation.

A statement issued by the. National Public Relations Officer of the Service, CSC Abdullahi Maiwada, clarified that vehicles seized and condemned will not be released under this arrangement and shall be forfeited to the Federal Government in accordance with extant regulations. 

It explained that all vehicle owners, Importers/Agents seeking to regularize import duties on their vehicles are required to apply to the Zonal Coordinators (Zones A, B, C, D) and CAC FCT Command. 

“They must submit the necessary available documents and process Vreg in line with the Federal Ministry of Finance directives for the registration of imported motor vehicles,” the statement added.

It further explained that valuation and assessment of the vehicles will be carried out using the VIN valuation method, adding that Import Duty and a 25% penalty shall be paid in tandem with the import guidelines, procedures, and documentation requirements for used vehicles under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria (2013) and the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. 

“Also, duty payments must be made using the Procedure Code specifically created for this exercise.

‘This initiative reflects our unwavering commitment to facilitating compliance. We encourage all stakeholders to capitalize on this opportunity within the stipulated timeframe,” the statement concluded.

In another development, the Comptroller-General of Customs  (CGC), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, marked Friday, 1 March 2024, as a pivotal moment for his administration, heralding an era of digital transformation within the Service.

Addressing attendees at the 2-day NCS 2024 ICT—Modernization Management Retreat in Abuja, CGC Bashir Adewale reiterated his commitment to leveraging technology to streamline customs operations. 

He emphasized the importance of engaging stakeholders to ensure the seamless execution of this ambitious project.

“In 2024, we cannot afford to remain entrenched in outdated practices. Stakeholders are demanding a Customs Service that embraces technology to enhance efficiency and transparency.” CGC Adeniyi remarked. 

Encouraging his Management Team, particularly in ICT, to champion the digitalization efforts, he urged them to harness internal resources to expedite the implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system.

*The CGC, Adewale Adeniyi

He, however, emphasized that “It is imperative that we modernize every facet of the Customs Enforcement Ecosystem. We must also integrate technology to fortify our operations.”

Welcoming the CGC to the retreat, the Chairman of Trade Modernization Project Limited, Alhaji Saleh Ahmadu, lauded the CGC’s resolve, highlighting the pivotal role of trade in national development. He underscored that the modernization initiative would revolutionize the NCS’s operations, fostering a conducive environment for trade across Nigeria and the African continent.

Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of ICT/Modernisation, ACG Kikelomo Adeola, commended the CGC’s unwavering commitment to the project. She highlighted its significance in reshaping, digitizing, and modernizing the Service’s activities.

“Welcome to this landmark retreat, where we embark on a journey to recalibrate and modernize the Service, aligning it with international standards.” ACG Adeola stated.

The NCS 2024 ICT-Modernization Management Retreat sets the stage for a transformative era in the Nigeria Customs Service, signaling its readiness to embrace technological advancements in pursuit of operational excellence.

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Soyombo’s Alleged ‘Wale’, Far From Being The CGC

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…As Investigation shows serious ethical lapses, amidst corruption fight back!

The Online Maritime Media Association of Nigeria OMMAN can authoritatively report that the name ‘Wale’ voraciously mentioned in a video alluded to by an alleged Southwest Smuggler, IBD Deinde was neither that of Wale Adeniyi, the CGC, or any Customs officer, but one of the errand boys of the embattled businessman.

It would be recalled that a video recently sneaked into the industry, where an alleged Southwest smuggler, Deinde threatened to rain down fire and brimstones, after his alleged goods were impounded by Customs Officers, in the Ilaro area of Ogun State. 

The CGC, Adewale Adeniyi has zero tolerance for corruption and had severally warned that he would not spare any Customs officers found culpable in the corruption web.

An insider at Ilaro, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, with OMMAN correspondents while clarifying at the weekend, said his boss actually had no direct access to the Comptroller General of Customs, Adeniyi, hence, couldn’t have meant the CGC.

ALSO READ:  MMIA $8m Seizure: Doing it right, no longer an Option- Comptroller Adeniyi

He however affirmed that his boss actually called the Controller, Federal Operations Unit FOU, Ikeja, where he met a brick wall.

“My Boss was angry and visibly agitated. He was saying, ‘Pele, call Wale (to get my phone) to call Ejibunu. But in a fit of anger (or slip of tongue), said Pele, call Wale. Ejibunu call Wale…!”

“Of course, Ejibunu was not there in front of him, so how could he have said Ejibunu, call Wale!”, he said, stressing the need not to further escalate the issue and get his boss into more trouble.

*Comptroller Ejibunu

“You guys are funny. You came to Ilaro to follow up a story promoted by a blogger, who didn’t even run it on his own site!”, he further asked, adding that the alleged promoter of the story, Fisayo Soyombo, though not a journalist, had already gotten his boss into trouble; in addition to getting some highly placed members of the community, sleepless nights. 

Two OMMAN Correspondents who were in Ilaro at the weekend noted that though the brouhaha occured in January, several weeks after, and contrary to the hot expletives, the seized contraband goods which ignited the controversial sparks in the video, are still secured in Ikeja, in full custody of the Federal Operations Unit, Lagos.

An industry watcher, Bolutife Egbewole told OMMAN, that he had seen the viral video; and going by the observed crazy display, he knew the goods were gone.

“You remember the story of the kite, the duck and the hen? If he had the capacity to free his goods from the Customs Service, he definitely wouldn’t be shouting crazily…

“If he had that kind of influence that he alluded to, then, he would simply keep quiet and honourably phoned his Contacts at the top. He lacks tact!”, Egbewole noted further, saying the only thing he couldn’t understand was why armed Customs operatives who should be protecting their colleague who was being publicly harassed, were pleading with the fire-splitting businessman.

“Do highly trained and equipped officers who owe allegiance to the federal government need to betray such palpable fears…?” he asked, wondering why he was not instantly arrested and detained, for disrupting the officers from performing their legitimate duty..

ALSO READ:  MMIA $8M SEIZURE: We are anchoring our mind on thorough investigation- Comptroller Adeniyi

At Ikeja, OMMAN correspondents spoke with four senior Customs officers, who echoed same sentiments, before painfully acknowledging the possibility that the service may have its fair share of bad eggs, just like every other government parastatal like the Police and Immigration did.

 “We acknowledge the fact that we too may have a few bad eggs. But I can assure you that the Abuja High Command is already looking in that direction and currently doing something about it”, one of the officers indicated.

But the four sources faulted the account linking Ejibunu with any possible movement of drugs and weapons to the North (in line with allegations) stressing that Ejibinu’s jurisdiction does not even extend to the North. They separately and independently pointed out that it was nothing beyond organized corruption, fighting back!

“His jurisdiction is just Southwest. Anyone attempting to link Ejibunu with so much influence must have forgotten that the cross-border security agencies, or, the police of varying states; NDLEA operatives, and sometimes the military have road networks of monitoring personnel”, the officer further said.

“You should talk to the CAC (Ejibunu) when he comes in. But I can assure you that he has no such influence; to settle even just the Customs on the highway from Lagos to Maiduguri, not to talk of, all the other varying arms of the government security agencies mandated to be on the highways.

When we finally got through to the FOU Controller, by phone since he couldn’t be reached by touch, he affirmed that Demade actually phoned him.

“I am not saying that people should not write whatever they like, but the ethics of journalism demands the writer must ensure a balanced reportage, by hearing from the other side too. Nobody like that came to my office.

“As to your question, my response is that my officials intercepted some contraband goods and impounded them. The seizure was still within the area. So, he (the alleged smuggler) went to Rotimi (a Customs officer) to plead with him that the seized items belonged to his junior ones; and should be released. Rotimi told him that he already informed the Controller and the Controller had instructed that the seizure be brought to the FOU warehouse. It was at that point that he decided to call Ejibinu.

“He did place a call to me; he actually did place a call. And when he placed the call; he now told me, ‘Controller please help me, the goods belong to my junior ones, and I told him, ‘I have made up my mind; i am seizing it; and that it should be brought to Ikeja.

“He pleaded that I shouldn’t do that; and at that point, I truncated the call.

“But I later called him to warn him, that he would be held fully accountable if there should be any organised reprisal attack against my officers.

“It was after he met the brick wall from me that he descended on my officers, as witnessed in the video.

“For an investigative reporter, I should expect that he asked what generated the commotion as witnessed in the video.

“He was probably not even there, he only lifted a portion of the squabble and began to write.

“As a public servant, my phone numbers are accessible to everybody. As a public servant, we are supposed to serve the people. Can any Nigerian call me, and I would decline his call?

“Now, that seizure had since been brought into the Government warehouse; as it has been seized. 

“This thing happened in January and remember, this same person (Deinde) a few years ago, (during Col. Hamid Ali’s regime) was arrested and detained in Abuja, but was eventually released”, the FOU Controller also stated.

He debunked the allusion that the ‘Wale’ mentioned was the CGC, stressing the fact that Deinde’s statement was “call wale… Bring my phone, bring my phone”, but ironically, the blogger allegedly misrepresented it to be the CGC.

“I am the sitting Controller, He had spoken to me. He had no need calling the CGC. There would be no point in calling the CGC. It was around the time the International Customs Day was held. The CGC would have been extremely busy and couldn’t even have been reached” he explained, stressing that he had a very brief discussion with Deinde.

ALSO READ: https://www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com/customs-intercepts-8065612-at-mmia-lagos/

Interestingly, a source at Ilaro alleged that the “Investigative Journalist” Soyombo had once, in the course of his in-depth investigation procured, a few months back, about a hundred bags of rice and starked it in a warehouse; only for Customs Operatives to storm the warehouse and carted them away!

If the account was true, that obviously could pitch the investigative journalist against the Customs. (He is presently not reachable by phone).

Of course, that would truly be a paradox if a CNN or BCC reporter would procure a hundred bags of rice and stash it in a warehouse, to look for truck drivers, just to prove that rice smuggling was real!

Even at N40,000, a hundred bags of rice would gulp over N4,000,000, excluding the cost of transportation or other logistics. Had he succeeded, would he have been selling the rice; or taking it to the Customs Harvey Road Zonal office to address a press conference?

As we tidy up our report, one major riddle remained unsolved; did Soyombo leave so many ends open, because he wasn’t a journalist, but a blogger? Were the untidy open-ended reports deliberately crafted to meet the demands of a particular class of readers rather than an altruistic contribution, to sincere expansion of the frontiers of justice? Better put, who could be the major sponsors or beneficiaries?

And finally: Why didn’t Fisayo Soyombo reach out at any point to either the FOU Controller or the Command’s Public Relations Officer, in tandem with the Journalistic ethics: audi alteram partem – hear the other side, except you harbour ulterior motives! 

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