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Tsare Teku: Sanity To Reign In Gulf Of Guinea-Ibas

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‘Be Proactive’, Naval Chief tasks seafarers, ship owners on maritime security
  • As Nigerian Navy Hands Over 3 Vessels, 25 Crew To EFCC

The Nigerian Navy has deployed warships and troops in a massive operation to end pirates’ attacks on local and international merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Iboke-Ete Ibas, said this at the launch of the special operation, code-named “Tsare Teku V”, on Wednesday in Onne, Rivers.

Ibas said the operation will also contain the high spate of attacks by oil thieves on critical oil and gas installations and other criminalities prevalent in the nation’s territorial waters.

According to him, operation “Tsare Teku V” was a continuation of an earlier operation launched in the first quarter of 2016 to protect offshore oil and gas facilities and economic activities.

“The operation has yielded positive result with significant improvement in the safety of shipping and offshore oil and gas facilities.

“It is gratifying to note that between January and June 2017, there were only four successful attacks on shipping within Nigeria’s waters as against 36 between January and June 2016.

“This improvement in security situation within Nigeria’s offshore maritime domain is attributable to the intensive patrols and efforts of Operation Tsare Teku,” he said.

Represented by Rear Adm. Ferguson Bobai, the Chief of Training and Operation, Naval Headquarters, Ibas said the operation would also cover troubled coastlines in Bayelsa.

Ibas said the International Maritime Bureau in its first quarter of 2017 Report on Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea attributed current decline to the efforts of the Nigerian navy.

The CNS said the report, however, observed that the area remained a kidnap hot spot for criminals, especially hijackers.

“This report re-emphasises the need for sustenance of the operation, and as such, made it imperative to extend the operation by another six months.

“The Nigerian Navy remains absolutely committed to creating a secure and enabling maritime environment for economic activities to thrive toward national growth,” he said.

MT Garroch

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has handed-over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 11 suspected oil thieves over alleged shipment of 1.3 million litres of stolen diesel worth N260 million.

Capt. Victor Choji, the Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, said the 11 all-male crew members were arrested on board their vessel, MT Garroch.

He said troops impounded the vessel during a routine patrol off the coast of Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers.

According to him, the arrest and seizure were in continuation of the service’s current mop-up of illegal refineries and illicit bunkering on the nation’s maritime environment.

“On March 18, troops of NNS Pathfinder, a group under Operation Delta Safe, during routine patrol intercepted and impounded a vessel, MT Garroch.

“The vessel was caught in the act transporting about 1.3 million litres of petroleum product suspected to be illegally refined diesel

“Eleven all-male crew members of Nigerian nationality were arrested on board the vessel and the suspects have been in our custody for preliminary investigation,” he said.

Choji said the Navy had conducted thorough investigation on the matter and was convinced that the diesel was sourced from illegal refineries, as it did not meet required standard.

The Executive Officer explained that EFCC would carry out further forensic analysis of the vessel and content to unravel the circumstances behind the illegal shipment.

Choji urged residents particularly those in coastal areas to go about their lawful activities without fear of molestation by criminals.

“NNS Pathfinder will continue to carry out 24-hour patrol of the waterways and creeks, while maintaining presence at flash points.

“We are here (on waterways) and on ground determined and prepared to frustrate all forms of illegalities particularly in the Rivers maritime environment,” he assured.

A senior detective of the EFCC, Mr Musa Gidado, who received the 11 suspected oil thieves and vessel, said the commission would conduct thorough investigation on the matter.

Gidado said that the suspects would be arraigned if found culpable of the allegations leveled against them.

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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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