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TAAM: Infrastructural Deficit, FOREX Bottleneck, Inconsistent Policies Remain Industry’s Major Ills

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SIFAX boss tasks stakeholders on ICT infrastructure in schools

… Taiwo Afolabi Urges Stakeholders Not To Relent 

A revered Maritime Guru and Chairman, of the SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has observed, that despite the utopian perception of the Maritime industry, by Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the Nigerian Maritime terrain is heavily plagued by Infrastructural deficit, foreign exchange bottleneck, and inconsistent policies.

Dr. Afolabi made the observation, while delivering his welcome address on Friday at the 5th Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) Conference, organized by the Maritime Forum of the University of Lagos, and held at the J.F Ajayi Auditorium, in Lagos. 

Dr. Afolabi who was represented by Mr. Bode Ojeniyi, the MD of Sky Capital also identified low level of technology adoption, amongst other major issues confronting the maritime sector; all of which “have largely limited the ability of the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.

The Director General of, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh on the occasion had painted a robust and utopian state of the nation’s Maritime industry, where piracy is totally curbed; and the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund is about to be disbursed, to swell indigenous shipping capacity.

While stressing the need to harness the maritime industry’s potential, and make it become a major revenue earner, especially with the declining oil revenue, Dr. Afolabi also cautioned stakeholders in the maritime industry not to lose focus, because the non-oil sector is increasingly becoming the mainstay of the country’s economy.

Some of the guests, listening with rapt attention, during the TAAM Conference

‘We have funded our national budget in the last few years majorly without proceeds from oil but from other sectors. The day of our overreliance on oil is behind us now and it is about time we focus on transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to non-oil reliance. The maritime sector will play a crucial role in this economic transition if more attention is committed to the industry’ he stressed.

In his speech, former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Temisan Omatseye also stressed that there was a lot of potential lying in the maritime sector and urged participants at the conference to take full advantage of it.

‘Nigeria is considered a maritime nation by virtue of having a coastline of over 850 nautical miles extending to an exclusive vote of 250 nautical miles which total over 90,000 square miles of ocean at the same time. In other words, the maritime industry is a great industry and we are not taking advantage of it as we should’ he opined.

Highlights of the event witnessed panel discussion with stakeholders such as Mr. Bodunrin Adewole, President, the Maritime Arbitrator Centre, Barrister Funmi Folorunsho, Secretary General of, the African Ship Owners Association, Dr. Emeka Akabogu, a renowned maritime lawyer and Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke, President, Women International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA).

Some of the distinguished guests at this year’s TAAM Conference were Jean Chiazor Anishere SAN, Barr. Emeka Akabogu, Prof. Adewale Olawoyin, Barr. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, AfCTA Chieftain, Barr. Funmi Folorunso, Maritime Arbitrators Arrowhead, Barr. Bodunrin Adewale; ANLCA Leader, Bola Muse, Olaitan Williams amongst several others.

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Customs Hands-over N704.5m Hemp To NDLEA

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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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Benue Food Security: Alia Denies Receiving N44bn From FG 

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Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue has denied receiving N44 billion from the Federal Government, as part of President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to address food shortage in the country.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue, had alleged that Alia received N44 billion in special intervention grants from the Federal Government between August 2023 to 2024.

This is contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Tersoo Kula in Makurdi on Tuesday.

Kula said some members of the APC and PDP were demanding accountability from the Governor over an imaginary N44bn.

He said the Governor never received such an amount of money from anybody since his assumption of office, adding that he was focused and would not be distracted.

Kula said that the governor since his assumption of office has been transparent, and accountable to the people of Benue and will not hide such a windfall from his people.

*Gov. Hyacinth Alia

He said that the Senate President, Godswil Akpabio who first made the allegation has since apologised to the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

“The Senate President, who made the allegation that state governors were given N30 billion each, has since apologised to the NGF.

“But in an attempt to give Alia a bad name so as to hang him, the stakeholders who were fully aware of these facts still went public repeating the same lie.

“Alia has never hidden any funds released to his administration. When the N2 billion, out of the N5 billion palliative support was given to Benue, he was among the first governors to announce the receipt of the money,” he said.

He said that this group of stakeholders had stood in the way of progress of the state for a long time, adding that they prefer party politics to governance.

The spokesman said that past governors who served the interest of stakeholders in Benue, only left the state highly impoverished and starved of basic developments,” he said.

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Customs Announces 90-Day Window To Pay Duty On Improperly Imported Vehicles

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…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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