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Customs Service Today, Absolutely Effective – Wale Adeniyi



Unassuming, meticulously thorough, Customs former national Spokesman, Deputy Comptroller Wale Adeniyi believes thousands of metric tons of rice have been stashed in several warehouses in neighbouring States, waiting to be smuggled into Nigeria. But, he also posits in a chat with the MARITIME FIRST, shortly before he was redeployed to Apapa Customs Command, that the Customs Service is, technically speaking, more prepared today to meet such challenges.

Excerpt please:-

There are stories that unscrupulous elements are using our borders, particularly the land borders to fuel smuggling and other criminal activities. What  is the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) doing to contain this, if the story has any semblance of truth?
You cannot choose your neighbours.  If you as an individual can choose your neighbors, you will probably choose somebody else, rather than me.

What countries all over the world do is to manage whatever neighbours they have to mutual beneficial advantage. A good example is Israel. Perhaps, you may take a good look at that country and the countries that are near it.

Israel has some countries that do not even want to recognize that the State exists.  So, over the years, what it has done, is to take measures for them to manage where they are, because you cannot take States away from where they are and relocate them elsewhere.

So, let’s assume we have some neighbours who live off us, off our sweat and they benefit a lot by being close to us… What do we do? We manage them. In any case, what we have been asking for in return, is for them to also recognize the fact that we also needed to benefit from them.

It has not been easy to manage our border particularly in the western flank, like Benin-republic. For a long time, goods destined for Nigeria has been landing in Benin-Republic, Nigeria is not a landlocked country. We have seaports, we have access to the port and things can be imported directly, but unfortunately, some Nigerians still choose to use ports of our neighbouring countries.

Now we have discovered that a good number of people are not doing it for trade participation purposes, they are doing it because they want to contravene one law or the other, either the law of prohibition, or law of restriction; all because they don’t want to pay the correct duty.


What has been our major response to that challenge?
We have put all our structures on ground.
You would recall I talked about the compliance team earlier that is doing a very wonderful job; we are talking of the team that has recorded over 300 seizures in the first three months of their operations; but we discovered that we cannot do it alone.
And so, We have also discovered that we need to engage  with other agencies of government to ensure that we have a very safe border.

The other agencies of government involved are the army, the police, the SSS etc; we have to collaborate with them, particularly the NAFDAC.

We collaborate more especially in the area of intelligence. We also know we need to collaborate with even communities, local communities particularly those within the boarders. We know we need to bring them on board because smugglers use them; and smugglers use their territories; smugglers feed on the intelligence that they give to them, to know where customs patrols are situated; to know our working hours, to know our relatives, our strength and weakness.

Such challenges we have, they pass information to them and they exploit this situation to enable the smugglers’ activities to be successful.

So, in addition to these collaborations, we also recognize on Nigeria side, that it will be more effective when we extend the frontiers of collaboration across the border; and who are we talking with first? It is the Customs of Benin-Republic!

The President is having regular consultation with the President of Benin-Republic; but we are taking it beyond that. We ensure to talk directly to their Customs and we are having series of meetings with them.

We had a number of agreements, and the last time we went to Benin, we actually told them that: ‘look, we don’t need new agreement; all we need to do is to ensure the previous agreements that we had are implemented; and that is what we are doing now.

We are putting structures; we are putting machineries in place to implement the couple of agreements we have had.

I have talked about vehicles for example: vehicles that landed in Benin-Republic, but which are meant for Nigeria would be now escorted by Benin Customs and handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service; and that has begun to happen.

The agreements are multilayer; we are talking about assistance between our Customs and them; we are talking about sharing intelligence, we are talking about giving them provisions. So, it is an effective way to ensure that they know that these are what we don’t want in Nigeria and the need for them to assist in making our country safe. Expectedly, these are beginning to bear fruits.
We believe that if we attack the problems you talk about right from inside Benin-Republic, we will achieve greater results.

And, this is what the World Customs Organisation (WCO) is encouraging… It is all about partnership between two Customs service administrations, and this is the kind we have with the Benin-Republic, to address some common concern.

The excellent way you have spoken is trying to give the impression that there may currently be no problem at all, between the two countries’ Customs at the borders. Is that true?
The only thing that is creating issues for us is the issues of rice. We do know that smugglers have big warehouses of rice in Benin-Republic and we have made it very clear to the political class and to their Customs that those rice would not come to Nigeria; and those who are taking their gambles to smuggle them are busy preparing their waterloo, increasingly, every day.

It is a mutual thing, we are not just going to tell them to ask for concession,  we are also giving away concessions to them. There are goods that we prohibited for export in Nigeria and we are taking a second look at them, we can actually allow these things in Nigeria if they want to.

So when you are in an agreement with someone you give certain concessions; , you give away certain things, you also take certain things too.

We are also giving them vehicles for patrol, you know all those thing that they will use to escort vehicles to Nigeria . In the first year when we gave them these, we even gave them money to maintain the vehicles, so it’s not just ‘give and give’, it is ‘give and take’; and that was sometimes ago…

  But, we understand that our Customs also allow in some classes of goods freely from our neighbouring States..
Those ones are those that has to do with their production within the sub-region under the category that falls within ECOWAS  Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS). But this is restricted to those that are trading within the sub-region. The intention of this is to encourage trade amongst ourselves.

The rice we are talking about is not produced in Benin-Republic; the funny thing is that we also know that they don’t consume per-boil in Benin-Republic, we know that all the per-boil rice that have landed in Benin-Republic are ultimately destined for Nigeria.

They don’t produce vehicles, they don’t produce frozen chicken. So, these frozen chickens we are talking about, are those that are imported from other countries, not ECOWAS countries and are landed in Benin-Republic.  So, it means they are only using Benin-Republic as a kind of landing post, before they bring them in to Nigeria.

In other words, there must be something that those importing them there are running away from.  Otherwise, they should be able to bring these items directly to Apapa ports, Warri ports, or to any Nigerian Ports, pay the duty and take it away and utilize.

So, in response to your question, we have given exception under ETLS, even reflecting it in our prohibition list, we gave exception to Benin-Republic.  It’s like saying : if you produce any item on our prohibition list, tell us, we will remove it for you and we allow such to come in and we may even setup an office there. So, that way, you don’t just bring tyres to Seme and say this tyre was…from Benin-Republic.

So, the idea is, if we setup an office there to  monitor it; we  will then register such producers, alongside their products ; and once we have a notice that you want to come and sell such in Nigeria, invite us,.  It would enable us see your production line, production cycle.

It’s like, ‘let’s see the production line, let see the raw material that you use. If you are bringing five trailer loads of tyres to our borders for instance and we have not seen evidence to show that you have had raw materials for two trailer loads, then something is wrong somewhere!

So, we had to maintain an office there to superintendent and look after those manufactured products. We have seen them do some textiles, some local textiles and we have brought them to Nigeria.

So those that are traded within the sub-region must be those that are produced within the sub-regions and there is a proviso that even if such goods are on our import prohibition list, you can bring them in.

But, you can’t bring them in from Canada, from US, from Germany, from China, or from India.

But, if we see evidence that they are produced locally and there is at least 35 percent local inputs into it, of course we will fulfil the rule of origin and they can be brought into Nigeria and it is duty free.
The task is onerous. So, perhaps, we should ask you to enlighten us in respect of some of your tools, for manning the borders.
We have a good aerial surveillance of the borders.
We have helicopters, we have patrol jets. We have two new helicopters, so we actually have three that we can deploy. But for the ones that we use before, they are fitted with cameras. The cameras are attached to them. But, these new ones don’t have cameras yet, so we cannot use them, as surveillance aircraft. So, for it to be configured into surveillance, we needed to attach surveillance cameras; and we are already working with the relevant agency of government that has offered to assist us in reconfiguring it, appropriately. So, instead of spending more money on  consultants, we are working with other sister agency of Government.
So, to answer your question, the Nigeria Customs Service today is, technically speaking, absolutely effective!



WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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