FG links illegal arms imports to Cameroonian agitation

. . .  Accuse  shipping firms of aiding dangerous imports

Sandra Ukele

THE Federal Government through the Comptroller General of the  Nigeria Customs Service (NCS)  have accused shipping firms particularly foreign lines operating in the country of aiding and abetting illegal arms importation into Nigeria.

Disclosing this at stakeholders meeting at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Shippers' Council (NSC) in Lagos, Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) said the illegal  importation of arms and ammunition was the biggest concern facing the Customs Service.

Ali also said the trend has not only become a source of concern to all Nigerians but also to the security and well being of neighbouring countries.

In the case of Cameroon where people are calling for secession the government fears that the prolification  of small arms into Nigeria would eventually be channeled to these agitators.

He warned that any vessel caught in the transportation of prohibited and banned cargoes will be arrested and detained adding that the security of the country cannot be compromised.

The retired army officer also told shipping companies that change in ship manifest midway into a voyage will henceforth be unacceptable noting that, that was what the arms importers used in bringing these cargoes into Nigeria.

Hameed added that henceforth containerized cargo must be palletized except for bulk cargo.
He said " The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container  will no more be acceptable.
" Carrying out examination on unpalletized cargoes was always a problem as palletization of containerized cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster.

"We must have a standard, we must have synergy between you and us that way we can achieve 24 hours cargo clearance time".

Explaining further, Ali said in light of implementing the Executive Order which was signed by the Vice President Mr. Yemi Osibanjo as Acting President, the Customs need the cooperation of every stakeholders so as to make the implementation of the Order successful.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers  Council,  Barrister Hassan Bello called on stakeholders to join hands with the Customs Service to make the port a better place to do business and facilitate trade.

He said the execution of trade policies alone without the cooperation of stakeholders could make the Executive Order unimplementable.


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