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Operation Delta Safe destroys 80 illegal Refineries

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  • As N10b river ports spark Reps probe of NIWA

Troops of the Operation Delta Safe have destroyed 80 illegal refineries in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, particularly those discovered around Obhoyohan and Ngiri Creeks in Nembe Local Government Area of the state.

The Co-ordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Operation Delta Safe, Maj. Abubakar Abdullahi indicated this in a
statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, adding that seven of the illegal refineries were destroyed in Bayelsa.

He highlighted that the illegal refineries contained 150,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil, while three suspects was arrested in connection with the illegalities.

In Delta, the troops destroyed six illegal refineries made up of four storage tanks and two dug out pits filled with suspected crude oil around Sara Abiteye swamp in Warri South West Local Government Area.

“Additionally, another patrol at the axis Ajoloso Creek in Elume community destroyed a camp housing eight illegal refineries.

“Similarly, troops destroyed nine illegal refineries that comprised four ground pits and three metal tanks filled with product suspected to be stolen crude oil at Katu near Camp 5 in Warri South-West.

“This is in addition to seven illegal refineries earlier destroyed around Opunami Creek.

“Another patrol conducted around Udu, Ughelli South Local Government Area discovered eight illegal refineries depot at Udu trailer park and destroyed 1200 drums laden with 140 metric tonnes of illegally refined diesel,’’ he said, saying
that the troops equally destroyed 10 illegal refineries around Bolo in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers.

“This is in addition to 25 others earlier raided at Creek 6 and Ijokiri in the same Local Government Area,’’ he said, appealing to the people to support Operation Delta Safe with useful information, as he stressed that all hands must be on deck to frustrate the activities of economic saboteurs.

“Let me also advise the sponsors and operators of illegal refineries to desist from the economic sabotage which begets environmental pollution and other social problems.

“Our troops would not relent until our mandate is achieved,’’ the coordinator concluded.

In the meantime, the House of Representatives is set to probe the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to determine its efficiency in securing passengers and their goods, it has been learnt.

The lawmakers, sources said, settled for the probe because they felt NIWA was not doing enough about the safety of passengers around and their goods.

The House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways is said to be worried that NIWA is not doing enough to make the ports attractive to investors, despite N10 billion being spent on the construction of river ports in Onitsha (Anambra), Lokoja, Baro and Oguta (Imo).

Findings revealed that work on Baro, Lokoja and Oguta river ports have attained 98, 57 and 75 per cent completion. Onitsha has been completed and a waiting concession.

A government source told The Nation that N3.5 billion was spent on Baro, Lokoja, N4.1 billion and Oguta, N2.7 billion.

NIWA, he said, was yet to provide the platform that would ensure security on the waterways to allow for private sector investment and participation in the river ports to trigger improved utilisation of inland waterways for transportation and easy conveyance of cargo from one part of the country to another.

The authority, a source also said, was yet to take its rightful place in waterways development and reposition the agency to meet the expected target of river port operators and users.

He bemoaned the unregulated activities within and around the corridors of Nigerian waterways and urged NIWA to wake up to its responsibility by securing the waterways and make the river ports attractive.

The unregulated activities of the local boat operators, he said, could affect security of passengers  aboard vessels, on shore facilities at intermodal connections, and where other transportation modes interact with NIWA infrastructure.

“The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) was established  to improve and develop Nigeria’s inland waterways for navigation. It also has the responsibility to issue licences for inland navigation, piers, jetties and dockyards; examine and survey inland watercraft and shipyard operators, grant permit and licences for sand dredging, pipeline construction, dredging of slot and approve designs and construction of inland river crafts.

NIWA’s role include effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the river ports they are promoting and other government facilities they are linked with.

“But if you move from Marina in Lagos to Epe, Iyana-Oworo,  Ojo,  Badagry, Lekki, Osoroko, Ibese, Ogogo village behind the Lagos port and other riverine areas across the country, you will see the impunity with which the local boat operators are operating on our waters without any corrective measures being taken by officials of NIWA.

“The July 2005 terrorist bombings in London highlighted the need to protect US mass transit systems, including ferries. Later, the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita highlighted the criticality of preparedness for recovery of the MTS following a large-scale disaster.  The 2008 terrorist attack via the maritime domain against Mumbai, India, highlighted the tie between border security and PWCS.  After each event, the Coast Guard reviewed its PWCS strategy and made adjustments where appropriate,” he said.

Additional report from Nation

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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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