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GoG: FG Mulls Synergy to Further Tackle Piracy; NIMASA Donates Bus to Bar Association

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GoG: FG Mulls Synergy to Further Tackle Piracy; NIMASA Donates Bus to Bar Association

The Federal Government on Tuesday called for more synergy among the stakeholders to tackle headlong the perennial problems of regional piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) nations.

The Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, made the call at the opening of a 3-Week Counter-Piracy Course on the Core Principles and Practice of Combating Piracy, in Abuja.

The course was conducted by Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan.

The minister who was represented by the Deputy Director, of the UN Development System Division of the ministry, Mrs Victoria Oluyole, said this would help to consolidate the success being recorded in the fight against maritime crime.

Agba commended the UNDP and the Government of Japan with the Nigerian Navy and other concerned nations for strategizing and planning on the ways and means of combating the menace on the national and regional waters

He said this had also helped in making it safe and correcting the damages already done to the sector as well as restoring normalcy to the seafarers.

While commending the Government of Japan, the UNDP and the Nigerian Navy for facilitating the programme, which he described as remarkable, Agba expressed the hope that it would help address the challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This event is remarkable as we have the assurance that the perennial problems of regional piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea nations are being confronted headlong in a new tactical dimension through training of professionals who would be able to handle state-of-the-art equipment and development of other capacities.

“We are confident that this capacity building exercise will provide the needed concept, facilitate the state of the art simulation gadgets, tactical, technological know-how to counter emerging threats as well as establish professional relationship among member States,” he said.

The minister, therefore, urged participants to get the best of the training in order to deploy it afterwards towards national objectives to salvage the region and the international communities.

The UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, Mr Matthew Alao, said that the 3-week course would help reinforce synergies and partnership amongst stakeholders.

Alao said the course was part of a Japanese-funded project that intends to complement global, regional and national authorities’ visions and efforts at combating the menace of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea region.

He said the was aimed at building the skills, expertise and knowledge of the participants on the core principles and practice of combating piracy.

“The course consolidates on the achievement of the 2021 maiden edition of the anti-piracy project successfully implemented by MLAILPKC in collaboration with partners from Go Countries including Nigeria.

“The Counter Piracy project, which is being implemented by the Centre, will assist the Gulf of Guinea Countries to further strengthen their institutional effectiveness, inclusiveness, accountability, transparency and responsiveness.

“As well as reinforce synergies and partnerships amongst them to combat maritime crimes; promote international trades, and ensure the economic stability of the member states and of the local communities in the region.

“The project will contribute towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 which aims to promote peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective and accountable institutions at all levels. It will help to reduce the prevalence of extremisms, violent crimes and exclusion,” he said.

The Commandant Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre Maj.-Gen. Awaul Fagge, represented by Deputy Commandant, Brig.-Gen. Sunday Makolo, expressed concern over the increased rise in the different acts of piracy that threatens the maritime domain.

According to him, this accounts for a great percentage of global merchandise distribution and exchanges.

Fagge said incessant pirate attacks had resulted in increased maritime insurance costs, increased prices of goods merchandise, oil and gas resource and the growth of regional black markets in clandestine goods and services apart from endangering lives and properties.

He said the costs associated with piracy and other TOCs were passed on and borne by the final consumers in the GoG littoral states.

“It is against this backdrop that the Government of Japan through the UNDP, sponsored the Centre to conduct a research project on Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: Root Causes, Effects and Priority Intervention Measures’.

“Thereafter, a curriculum for an anti-piracy course was developed, which led to the conduct of the Anti-Piracy Course in the Centre,” he said.

The commandant said that during the period of training, participants would be required to bring their various experiences, competencies and expertise to bear.

Mr Shinozawa Takayuki, Charge d Affairs ad Interim of Japan to Nigeria, said that his country was committed to contributing to the security of West Africa and protect people’s lives through a variety of measures including capacity building for personnel in charge of maritime safety.

“Japan and Nigeria are far apart, but we are connected by sea. Therefore, as a true friend of Nigeria, it can be said that Nigeria’s matter is Japan’s matter.

“I wish to reassure everyone that the Government of Japan, in cooperation with other countries, continues to contribute to the peace and stability of the Gulf of Guinea, for the livelihood of the Nigerian people and for regional economic stability,” he added.

While describing the GoG as the world’s piracy hotspot in 2021, the envoy commended the Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian military, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and other relevant organizations for their continuous and tremendous efforts in fighting piracy through various initiatives.

He said that countries such as UK and US were also working together with the Nigerian government on security in the Gulf of Guinea.

In another development, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has donated a brand new 18-seater Innoson bus to the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) Bwari Branch.

The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, while presenting the bus to the Chairman of the association in Abuja, said it was to support them to speedily dispense justice in the country.

Jamoh, who said he was happy to fulfil the promise made to the NBA, expressed optimism that the bus would aid the speedy dispensation of maritime matters and other matters of importance in the country.

He said: “I hereby present this vehicle to you today, and I hope you will use it for the purpose for which it was meant, to  improve speedy dispensation of justice in our judicial system.”

Responding, the association chairman, Monday Adjeh, thanked the director-general for honouring his word and providing the bus.

“Over the years, in respect of our noble goal and objectives to enhance speedy dispensation of justice, we discovered that some of our committees who are into various activities like speedy de-congestion and fighting of human rights are handicapped by the issue of mobility.

“We now approached NIMASA that they should come to our aid so that we will be able to raise the bar of dispensing justice within a reasonable time and they hearkened to our voice.

“They said they will help us by giving us a bus and here it has come to reality today; we are having our bus just for the course of the quick dispensation of justice and that is what we have gotten from the NIMASA director-general today.

“I  feel elated and happy and I am also happy to inform you that the course of justice on our part will be given speedy effort because we have the facility, we have the vehicle that will help us to discharge, and carry out this assignment effectively.

“So I am happy, that the course of justice will be given speedy attention,” Adjeh added.

The NBA chairman then congratulated the NIMASA boss on the recent national award given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari, the award of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR).

Adjeh said: “We congratulate on this prestigious honour bestowed on you by the Federal Government, that shows your commitment and the efforts you have been making for this generation.”

 

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ALI: Why Customs Attained Only N2.6trn, Out of 2022 Revenue Target of N3.1trn

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ALI: Why Customs Attained Only N2.6trn, Out of 2022 Revenue Target of N3.1trn

…Blames unpredictable Stock market, Government’s fiscal policies, particularly, waivers and concessions***

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has blamed the unpredictable Stock market and Government’s fiscal policies, particularly, waivers and concessions as being mainly responsible, for the shortfall in the 2022 revenue target.

Actually, the Service had a revenue target of N3.1 trillion, but terminated the ambition, after raking in, N2.6trn; making a mirage of N400 billion.

Ali stated this on Thursday in Abuja, while fielding questions from newsmen at a briefing to mark the end of a three-day global conference organised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

The Comptroller-General said, “non-commencement of tariffs on carbonated drinks, telecommunications tariff, among other things, affected the actualisation of the service’s target for 2022.”

ALI: Why Customs Attained Only N2.6trn, Out of 2022 Revenue Target of N3.1trn

He said the service was “hopeful that 2023 will be better if all these factors would be put in place.

On the theme of the conference “Enabling Customs in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations“, Ali said he was disturbed by the security challenges in border areas.

He said besides efforts being made to get his personnel fully equipped for the job, the service was not resting on its oars to build its capacity for effective performance.

Ali pledged to do everything to reposition the service.

It would be recalled that while the Service celebrated recording such a huge revenue feat, many Stakeholders, particularly the importers and Customs brokers wept bitterly, lamenting what they perceived as the introduction of various strategies and high-handedness towards meeting the set target!

On more than one occasion, they had threatened to down tool; and at least, on one occasion, they actually did, over what they described as misapplication of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) scheme.

Most pronounced was the ‘anti-smuggling’ activities of the Federal Operation Units, which severally waylaid, containers already cleared by Customs as they exit the ports, rechecking their documents; and often, taking the containers to their base, for another round of examination or raising of new Debit Notes.

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Emerging Border Crimes threatening Customs Operations-Ali

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Emerging Border Crimes threatening Customs Operations-Ali

… Says Customs forced to suspend operations in places considered “fragile”***

The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, says emerging border crimes were threatening Customs operations.

Ali said this at a news briefing on Thursday in Abuja, to mark the end of a three-day Global Conference on Fragile Borders, organised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

The WCO was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC), specifically as an independent, intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.

The conference has the theme, ‘Enabling Customs in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations’.

He said although the primary function of Customs was to generate revenue and facilitate trade, heightened insecurity around the borders had made it imperative to be adequately equipped to work effectively.

The Customs boss, who is the Vice Chairman of the West and Central Africa (WCA) region of WCO, while thanking WCO for giving Nigeria the opportunity to host the conference, said “we are honoured.”

He said the dangerous trends around the borders were increasing by the day, saying “We are inundated by this fragile border issue in the gulf of Guinea and other neighbouring countries.

“Unfortunately Customs is a hard hit because of the quest to rid our borders of smugglers and other border criminals.

He further said “smugglers for instance have become very deadly and some of our gallant officers have lost their lives in the process of trying to stop their nefarious activities.

“We have also lost properties over time and this is because these smugglers use dangerous weapons to try to deter our officers from carrying out their responsibilities.

“So, it will be foolhardy to confront such a dangerous group of people without being adequately equipped.”

The Customs Boss said the development had become dire in some border areas adding that Customs was forced to suspend operations in those places they had been declared “fragile”.

“This is a critical matter that requires needed attention and this is because if there is no security there will be no movement of goods and services and that will affect revenue generation.

“There is a need therefore for total overhaul of the service in some countries because Customs officers do not carry arms in those countries.

“That ought to change now that there is so much insecurity around us.

“One of the ways we are working to ensure that  Customs stays ahead of these criminals is the e-Customs platform.’

Dr Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General, WCO, said there was a need for relevant stakeholders to collaborate for better performance.

Mikuriya said WCO a 184-member worldwide organisation in which Nigeria plays an active role, was concerned about the spate of insecurity.

He said the time had come for Customs to go beyond mere revenue generation to paying attention to security matters, adding that “without security at the borders we cannot effectively collect revenue.”

He also said there was a need for data sharing, research and development, intelligence gathering and deployment of technology in the whole exercise.

The Secretary-General said WCO was working out an action plan to help tackle the issue of insecurity, particularly as it affects Customs.

Part of the activities of the WCO at the conference was a scheduled visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Today, the WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.

As the global centre of Customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organisation with competence in Customs matters and can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community.

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Seme Customs Seizes Fake $6m, 1,300 kegs of Petrol, 14 Intern’l Passports, in 10 days

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Seme Customs Seizes Fake $6m, 1,300 kegs of Petrol, 14 Intern'l Passports, in 10 days

The new Customs Area Controller CAC, Seme Customs Command, Dera Nnadi, has made spectacular seizures, which included fake $6 million cash, an equivalent of N2.763bn, 1,300 kegs of petrol, a.k.a Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), just within 10 days of his assuming duty.

Compt. Nnadi disclosed this at a press briefing on Thursday, highlighting that the fake dollars were seized at Gbaji checkpoint along Seme corridor in the early hours of January 31st, 2023; also noted that the command intercepted 550 pieces of donkey skin, 146 bags of flour, 14 international passports and 10 international drivers’ licenses.

The impounded petrol could fill over a fuel tanker.

He said that two male suspects were arrested in connection with the seizure. 

Compt. Nnadi also stated that the 1,300 jerry cans of PMS seized had a duty-paid value of N9,366,450.

He added that the products were seized along the creeks.

He stated that the seized 146 bags of flour has a duty-paid value of N5, 383,020.

The CAC explained that the 550  pieces of donkey skin in 550 sacks seized represents the killing of 550 donkeys, an animal classified as part of endangered species which needs to be protected.

He said that the duty-paid value of the seized donkey skin is N11, 371,511.00.

He observed that the officers of the command intercepted six Maltese international passports with the same picture of a lady but bearing different names, two Senegalese international passports, three Togolese international passports, four Republic of Benin international passports, one Republic of Niger passport and ten international driver’s licenses from two male suspects.

According to the controller, the passports and driver’s licenses were intercepted along Gbetrome base.

He maintained that his command facilitated the movement of 70 trucks under ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) with fees amounting to N1, 414,665.01 collected.

Compt. Nnadi announced that there were 81 baggage declarations with duty amounting to N4, 520,722.

He said that the items imported under this arrangement include food products and beverages produced within the sub-region. 

 The CAC stated that the command recorded only five declarations of import within the period with a total of N13,383,104 paid as duty.

He equally explained that the dearth in import was a result of the trade policy introduced by Republic of  Benin which traders and indeed the Service consider hostile to  Nigeria. 

On export, Nnadi stated that the command processed 122 trucks bearing 3,770.49 metric tons of made-in-Nigeria cargo with a Free On Board value of N523,660,496.80 and National Export Supervision Scheme fee of N2, 618,302.10.

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