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Amaechi takes Railway, Saraki oversees Maritime as Transportation Ministry interact with maritime stakeholders



Amaechi unhappy over CCECC slow pace of work on Lagos -Ibadan Rail project

A desire to ensure that all aspects of the country’s transportation parastatals receive adequate Government attention may have resulted into an unwritten agreement which hands over every aspect of Maritime industry under the hawk-eye watch and supervision of the Minister of State, Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, while the Minister, Rotimi Amaechi concentrates on the Railway sector.

The Transportation Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi unveiled this arrangement on Thursday in Lagos at the 3rd Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum he hosted along with Saraki, adding that Sen. Gbemisola Saraki would personally chaperone all maritime agencies.

Amaechi decried the delay in the take-off of the 195 million dollars maritime security contract awarded to an Israeli firm, HSLI, noting that the contractor had been coming up with excuses for the delay.

“This is not good enough because we are losing man hours, human beings and business to insecurity on our waters,” he said.

On the railways, Amaechi said that government had approved 5.3 billion dollars for the construction of rail from Ibadan to Kano and was working towards connecting the rail to the sea port between December and January next year.

Also read:  AMAECHI: Lagos – Ibadan Rail line now costs $2,156,800,000

He assured there would be a collaboration between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to achieve efficiency, while more vessels would be bought.

On security, he said that they would be working with the army, navy and other security agencies, stressing that 10 per cent of issues on the waterways had to do with recklessness.

The minister noted that in 2016, the President gave approval for single window, as Nigeria was the only country in West Africa without one.

Amaechi said that before the end of 2020, the country would get a single window.


He said it was a facility that allowed parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.

Gbemisola Saraki, on her part, promised to work on issues associated with cadets having sea-time in Nigeria.

According to her, having chaired the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for four years, she has an idea of what to do, but will take her time because of new issues like insecurity.

“We are going to look at the issues of cadets not getting sea-time. We are also going to look at the issues of ship registry and cargo tracking note.

“We want to know how many jobs the maritime sector will create,” she said.

In the meantime, Maritime Industry technocrat and Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) Hassan Bello, has stated that by the  end of  October, 35 per cent of the costs in the sector would be reduced.

He appealed to the Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) to also come on board to make the sector more competitive.

“We are actually competing with the cost and demurrage, and 35 per cent of the cost will be removed by next month, that is with the shipping lines,” he said.

According to him, there is the need to make the ports attractive, and government needs to improve on the infrastructure, while the private sector also plays their part.

He lauded the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for creating a truck transit park which had reduced the freight rate in the sector.

He also said that in Apapa for instance, with the intervention of NPA by creating the truck park, things were a little bit easier now.

“Before, truck from Apapa to Lagos was about N800, 000, but now it is a bit cheaper,” he said.

Some stakeholders at the event requested for an integrated transport system to help unlock the maritime potential in Nigeria.

According to them, the manufacturing sector is dependent on maritime transportation and presently, majority of cargo destined for Nigeria go to other countries port.

“If the country is regarded as the port of choice in discharging cargo, it will create opportunities for the maritime industry, for there will be more work.

“Cost is driving shippers out of the ports, government need to create conducive atmosphere, sustain the reduced cost of the port and monitor excesses of government agencies, especially with their charges.

They also called for gender mainstreaming — as a policy in the ministry and parastatals — where women would be given equal opportunities as regard projects, as their male counterparts in the industry.



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Customs Hands-over N704.5m Hemp To NDLEA



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



…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



…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.


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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