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COVID-19: Brouhaha Over Customs Futile Attempt to ‘Smuggle’ out Vegetable oil

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…It has been resolved- Apapa Customs***

Port activities were on Thursday seriously disrupted, following the futile attempt by Nigeria Customs Service operatives to exit three trucks fully loaded with vegetable oil out of Apapa Port, without official papers.

NOMMA confirmed that the vegetable oil-laden trucks bore registration numbers JJJ 90XQ, KTU495XR, and NSR 87 YJ respectively.

The development which according to eyewitnesses began around 17.30 hours paralyzed port activities for over an hour, because officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority stood their ground, insisting that Customs must produce papers that authorized them to take such high numbers of trucks out.

“When all explanation by the Customs failed, one of the Operatives drew his gun, the second did exactly the same, snapped the latch, resulting in sudden retreat by the NPA workers, who thought they would shoot.

“Perfectly timed, the driver of one of the trucks matched the throttle and spirited away the heavy cargo, hitting the empty road and driving off at good speed.

“The other two trucks drivers were however not so clever”, disclosed an eye witness to the NOMMA Correspondents, as the retreating NPA workers got the gist, and quickly mustered back, this time effectively blocking the exit.

“Expectedly, the reinforcement by way of more colleagues and the Port Police those at the gate sent for, arrived by this time, outnumbering the Customs; and enabling them to take the wind off Customs sail!

“It was a clear case of total collapse of inter-agency collaboration. The NPA workers insisted that Customs must produce papers because the idea of exiting cargo off the port had become too rampant, and now, exacerbated by the abnormalities of the COVID 19 modalities”, an eye witness said, even as a port operator who spoke on conditions of anonymity said one Senior NPA official was roughly handled.

Also read: COVID-19: NAGAFF seeks Greater Customs participation in enforcing Presidential Directives on Ports

“It was totally unexpected. The NPA men stood their ground and the men of the Customs enforcement got irate and drew their guns because port officials said the goods would not exit the ports. They even rough handled the Principal Manager at the gate, as well as a Deputy Commissioner of the Port Police for denying them the right of way”, he noted further.

However, upon NOMMA investigation, sources close to the Customs disclosed that the trucks contained seized vegetable oil which Government had earmarked as COVID-19 palliatives.

The ‘contraband’ was therefore only being removed when NPA workers said no.

On the NPA side, a source relaying the incident said their men at the gate only did what was expected of them, when they saw the trucks had no documentation. “They only asked the Customs Officers to speak with the Port Manager who was still at work, but the Customs Operatives blatantly refused, insisting that they had an “order from above” to take the goods out”.

Our source further explained: “But you very much know, that whether seized cargoes or not, the right procedure is to notify agencies of government at the ports, especially the Nigerian Ports Authority, through proper documentation, before exiting the port with cargo”.

He frowned at the recurring situation in which Customs enforcement unit takes the law into their hands, stressing that this should be checked, to avoid a total breakdown of law and order.

NOMMA confirms that the three trucks contained seized gallons of vegetable oil which were taken out of APM Terminals in Apapa Port. And also that during the fracas, one of the trucks left the port while two others were stopped by NPA officials and the Port Police.

As at press time, NOMMA gathered that the NPA executive management had escalated the issue with the intent of putting an end to the recurring feud, which they believe might not be unconnected with sentimental inclinations arising from rivalry between both agencies, which they think should also be resolved.

Even though Customs National Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Joseph Attah could not be reached to officially responded to our media explore, Nkeiruka Nwala, the Apapa Customs Command PRO said the matter had been resolved.

 

Maritime

NNPP: Clergyman Predicts Peace, Stronger Party

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NNPP: Clergyman Predicts Peace, Stronger Party

…As NAGAFF Members seek God’s Intervention over intractable party Crisis

A clergyman, Pastor Joel Uzor, has predicted a new era of peace and the emergence of a stronger New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) following divine intervention, sequel to bouts of selfless prayers by members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), on Thursday.

The faithful NAGAFF members on Thursday defied the heavy downpour, to sincerely seek the face of God, and pray that the crisis rocking their party will soon end, and the party should get stronger in the future.

Speaking during the prayer session organized by NAGAFF members for the survival of NNPP, Pastor Uzor stressed that enemies of the party will soon give way for genuine members, and this will lead to a stronger and better NNPP.

The clergyman, who presides over the Rock of Evidence Assembly, emphasized the importance of prayer in overcoming the crisis, citing relevant scriptures to support his message.

Dr. Boniface Aniebonam

He prophesied that NNPP would emerge stronger from the crisis, with those bent on destroying the party leaving peacefully without troubling genuine members.

Pastor Uzor described the controversy as a prolonged disagreement between two or more parties, citing examples from the Bible, including the story of Abraham and Lot.

 He also encouraged NAGAFF members to pray fervently for God’s intervention towards not only a peaceful political party. but even a peaceful Nigeria.

Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Founder of NAGAFF and NNPP, also spoke at the event, describing the association as a prayerful group. He lamented the internal crisis in NNPP, saying it is uncalled for, and emphasized the need for God’s intervention to achieve the desired peace.

The crisis has brought together, concerned members of the business community with the political membership of the party, in going spiritual; and praying for peace and stability in the party.

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NNPP Crisis: Freight Forwarders Defy Rain To Pray For Peace

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NNPP Crisis: Freight Forwarders Defy Rain To Pray For Peace

The grey line between Commerce and Politics further blurred on Thursday as Members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) defied a heavy rain to offer prayers for peace in the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Crisis hit the maritime people’s dominated party, the NNPP, following the alleged attempt by its former Presidential flag, Rabiu Kwankwaso, his alleged expulsion from the party, and the subsequent cacophony of allegations and counter allegations, plunging the freight forwarders’ pride into internal crisis.

The prayer session, led by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the association, Mr Chidiebere Enelaman, was held at the NAGAFF Headquarters in Apapa, Lagos.

Enelama said that the association decided to hold the prayers because of its close ties with the party, its brainchild which was founded in 2002 by NAGAFF’s founder, Dr Boniface Aniebonam.

“Almost all NAGAFF members are members of the NNPP. The party was formed not only to win elections in Nigeria but to propagate issues that would be favourable to the Maritime sector.

“It is sad to watch the ongoing internal wrangling and not intervene.

NNPP CRISIS: NAGAFF Goes Spiritual, Organizes Prayer Session To Entrench Peace

“We believe so much in the power of the Almighty and we believe He will restore peace to the NNPP,” he said.

The chairman said that the prayers were a response to the internal crisis brewing within NNPP, particularly concerning the expulsion of Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, the party’s 2023 Presidential Candidate, due to alleged anti-party activities.

“NAGAFF as the parent body of the NNPP, under the leadership of Aniebonam, shall continue to appreciate and remember the role played by Kwankwaso in the last presidential elections.

“We hope that God shall intervene in the internal wranglings of the NNPP and also give Kwankwaso the wisdom to retrace his steps in the issues concerning NNPP and his role therein,” he added.

Also speaking, Aniebonam said that prayer remains the key to resolving issues.

He narrated how seeking divine intervention had worked for NNPP in the past during the challenging Kano State governorship election.

Aniebonam noted that the association remained hopeful that God would once again intervene and bring peace to NNPP during the period of internal discord.

“When the odds were against the party in the Kano State governorship election at the tribunal and appeal court, we ran to God for intervention at the Supreme Court and He answered.

“It is our hope and belief that God will answer us again at this trial period of internal crisis. We shall forge ahead to elect a great leader in Nigeria at God’s time.

“As founder and life member of the NNPP board, it is my greatest desire to see peace reign and for the splinter group to retrace its steps.

“I’m a father to all and I sincerely believe that God will hearken to our prayers,” he added.

The prayer session was officiated by Pastor Joel Ozor of the Rock of Evidence Assembly in Ojo, Lagos.

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Ease of Smuggling Ends on Adamawa/ Taraba Axis, As Bashir Efforts Yield Fruits

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Ease of Smuggling Ends on Adamawa/ Taraba Axis, As Bashir Efforts Yield Fruits

The ease of smuggling on the Taraba axis may be temporarily over, as a drive by the Nigeria Customs Service NCS to thwart illicit trading has begun to yield outstanding results.

The new Adamawa/ Taraba Area Command Controller, Garba Bature Bashir confirmed this, highlighting that, only two weeks under his leadership, the Command had recorded five incidents of interception of over N10 million worth of petrol (Premium Motor Spirit PMS) snoozing its way, to the neighbouring Country, Cameroon Republic. 

 “In the past two weeks, our drive to thwart smuggling rings in this command has produced outstanding results. The success recorded so far could invariably predicated on the synergy, robust border management, intelligence sharing and unwavering efforts of our operatives”, Comptroller Garba Bashir stated, noting that a key item, petrol was on its way to Cameroon.

“The Command Officers while on anti-smuggling operations along the Command frontiers within two weeks under my leadership had recorded five (05) incidents of interception of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on its way to the neighbouring Country, Cameroon Republic. 

“The intercepted and seized PMS plus the Means of Conveyance hereinafter are Valued at Ten   Million, eight hundred and seventy-one thousand, four hundred and ninety-six naira and twenty-five Kobo only (N10,871,496.25) as the Duty Paid Value (DPV)”, Bashir also said.

Pointing out that while no suspect was apprehended during the Operations because the suspects abandoned the items and absconded in an attempt to circumvent arrest, the Command remains undaunted and committed to its anti-smuggling mandate.

“The seized items include the following:

i.​12,435Litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) packed in 491x25L and 8 x 20L Jerry Cans.

ii.​one used Mitsubishi truck -Means of conveyance of the PMS and

iii.​One used Motor Cycle – the Means of Conveyance of the PMS.

“The seizure of these items is in line with sections 150 and 248 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 and considering the facts that the Command’s territorial borders are officially closed. 

“However, due to the inflammable nature of these PMS, it will be auctioned immediately after this briefing following the standard operating procedure (SOP) and as enshrined in section 119 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023 and the proceeds accrued remitted into the Federation Account accordingly.

“Smuggling activities had done more harm than good to the nation. It hinders our national growth and strangles our trade policies concerning revenue, foreign investment, preservation of domestic trade and growth, food security and public security. 

“Smuggling networks are often connected to diverse illicit activities, such as money laundering, terrorism financing and human trafficking, which can disrupt national security and the rule of law.

“The Nigeria Customs Service, Adamawa/Taraba Area Command on this point, will never give up in its fight against the menace of smuggling until the command is purged of it. 

“We want to unwaveringly tell the smugglers that our operatives are strategically repositioned along the borderlines to fasten their exit out of this illicit business”, he further said, advising the illicit traders to renounce economic sabotage and illicit trade into and out of the Command’s territorial borders, and adopt legitimate business, as the Command Operatives will not rest on their oars until we stamp out smuggling across all the command borders.

“To the border Communities and the patriotic Nigerians, we solicit your partnership in the area of providing timely intelligence that can aid our operations in getting rid of this economic scourge from our nation. 

“To the transporters and oil marketers to be vigilant and patriotic to deny these smugglers a supply chain. And to the Media Personnel, please do increase awareness campaign to educate the general public on the dangers and negative impacts of smuggling on our socio-economic development.

“Finally, we attributed these huge successes recorded so far to the unwavering support and encouragement of the management of the Nigeria Customs Service under the tenacious leadership of Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR, who has continued to give all the required backup and supply chain for our smooth anti-smuggling operations. 

“We wholeheartedly appreciate his unrelenting drive for service advancement”, Bashir stated, stressing the combined, cooperative advantage of all the Customs Units, which comprise the CIU, FOU, SIS, Valuation, ICT; and the synergy with other security agencies as well.

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