Security agencies in Plateau State are leaving no stone unturned towards achieving a hitch-free eid el fitri celebration withthe deployment of security personnel across the state.
There was also a show of force across Jos and Bukuru metropolis by members of the joint security task force comprising of the Army, Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Customs, Immigration, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
Acting Commander of Operation Safe Haven, Brigadier General Abdulasalam Ibrahim, reminded the troops not to relent on their efforts of securing citizens particularly during the festive period in spite of embarking on the show of force.
In addition to the military show of force, the State Police Command has also placed a ban on the use and sales of fireworks with vehicles and tricycles not to be packed within praying grounds.
The use of motorcycles to worship centres is also prohibited as part of security measures for a hitch-free celebration.
Nigeria Customs Service has restated its commitment to restricting the importation of rice.
The Area Comptroller Customs, Oyo/Osun Command, Temitope Ogunkua, made the declaration on Saturday at the command headquarters in Ibadan.
Mr Ogunkua advised traders and importers of rice to perfect their papers for the right channel through the ports.
He insisted that there was no going back on the rice ban, as it had adversely affected Nigeria’s revenue generation.
The Customs officer also lamented that smugglers had explored the loopholes in porous borders to bring in rice without paying duties.
The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, had implored the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (Rtd), during a visit to the state, to rethink the ban and give room for alternatives to be provided before shutting out imported rice.
Some of the traders and consumers have also decried the ban on rice importation through the borders, coupled with the fuel scarcity, epileptic power supply and non-payment of salaries.
A truck laden with suspected prohibited goods has been intercepted by men of the Nigeria Customs Services Headquarters, Special Assignment Team ‘C’ in Ogun State axis.
The seizure was made known to reporters on Wednesday by the head of the Headquarters, Assistant Comptroller of Customs Shittu Almarof.
The Customs boss said that the strengthened anti-smuggling strategy and aggressive patrol exercise was targeted at the degradation of smugglers.
The patrol team, led by Chief Superintendent of Customs, Ismaila Umar, while on routine patrol along the Sagamu-Benin Expressway, intercepted a Volvo truck with registration number LND 298 XN.
When the truck was brought down to the Headquarters of Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State for physical examination, it was confirmed that the truck had 785 cartons of smuggled frozen poultry products.
The poultry were concealed with 478 cartons of frozen fish with Duty Paid Value of 9.975 million Naira.
Mr Almarof advised smugglers to engage in other legal businesses or they would continue to lose their investments to such operations.
The Oyo/Osun Area Comptroller of Customs, Temitope Ogunkua, said the command is ready to assist all legitimate importers of goods and genuine products into the country.
This assurance was given to traders during a meeting with journalists at the area command headquarters in Ibadan, the state capital.
The Customs boss also added that the command has blocked more than 200 illegal entry and exit points through which smugglers operate in the Oke Ogun area of the state.
He vowed to clamp down on recalcitrant smugglers in the state, saying more personnel are being deployed for better effectiveness.
While handing over some seized petroleum products to representative of Civil Defence in the state, the Customs boss lauded the inter agency collaboration among security agents across the state, saying it has improved efficiency tremendously.
Items recovered include; imported rice, groundnut oil and gallons of liquid suspected to be petrol.
One suspect was also apprehended and handed over to authorities of Civil Defence for further investigations.
Attention seems to be shifting to Kogi State as the governorship election holds on Saturday.
The Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, who has been meeting with squadron commanders of the police mobile force across the country, explained that strategic steps were being taken by the Police to ensure that the forthcoming election in the state is hitch-free.
He told journalists on Tuesday in Lokoja that all operational issues in respect to the election had been taken care of, adding that the Police would be working with operatives of other security agencies during the polls.
“We are going to draw on the manpower profile of the service commanders that are here; the Federal Road Safety Corp, the DSS, Immigration, Customs, Prisons and the military.
“While the military is not permitted to be physically present in election duties, nothing prevents them from helping us to shut down or lock down some areas which we think would pose serious crisis,” he said.
IGP Arase said that he was counting on his men, their strength, commitment and loyalty, for a successful exercise.
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone C of the Nigeria Customs Service has seized 37 different items suspected to be contraband goods, with a total duty paid value of one hundred and seventy nine million naira.
Addressing reporters at the command headquarters in Owerri, the Imo State capital in south-east Nigeria, the Area Controller of FOU zone C, Mr David Dimka, said that the goods varying from car tyres, trucks, bags of cement, cartoons of frozen turkey and bale of second hand clothing were all seized at different locations within the zone.
The controller said the seizures was made possible by the support of the public who furnished the Nigeria customs with intelligent information about activities of the smugglers.
Dimka also appealed to members of the public to continue to provide adequate information to the Nigeria customs, to enable them fight the menace of smuggling.
Mr Dimka added that 18 suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizure and were awaiting trial in court.
He advised smugglers to stay clear of FOU zone C and all other zones in the country because men and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service have been trained and retrained with modern technologies to bring smuggling to its barest minimum.
Commercial drivers and private vehicle owners in Kaduna State have decried the activities of officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in most parts of the state, describing them as extortionists.
The motorists, who spoke to Channels Television Correspondent described as appalling, a situation whereby after struggling to buy fuel into their vehicles and maintaining them, Road Safety officials would always intercept and extort money from them on account of one offence or the other.
According to them, even when all the vehicle particulars and other requirements are complete, they still asked or looked for a fault in order to detain the vehicle in order for the driver to part with some of his day’s earning.
Amongst its functions, according to the edict that established the Federal Road Safety Corp, was traffic law enforcement and patrols on the highways, clearing of obstructions and providing assistance to stranded road users on journeys, aggressive and coordinated public education, awareness and enlightenment on friendly use of the roads by motorists and other road users as well as rescue operations and providing first aid to accident victims on the road.
While there were those who believe the Road Safety officials are doing their best in terms of accident reduction and sanity on the roads, some motorists insisted that the they had no business operating within Kaduna metropolis.
They alleged that instead of mounting checks on the federal highways, the FRSC officials position themselves on rural roads where they collect money from drivers.
When contacted, the Kaduna State FRSC Sector Commander, Olumide Olagunju, said that he was aware of such misconduct among some of his men, but stressed that officers who were caught in the act of extortion and other corrupt behaviours have been made to face disciplinary actions.
On whether his men have the right to check motorists on Local Government and state roads, the Corps Commander said that his men had powers to operate at all the streets and roads in Kaduna.
Although accusations such as this have always been meted to other security agencies like the Police, Customs and others, it is expected that the Road Safety authorities would take the allegations very seriously by ensuring that all corrupt officers are punished accordingly, while at the same time making traffic offenders to face the law.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Wednesday berated the culture of parading suspects by Nigerian law enforcement agencies, noting that only poor citizens were treated in such ways.
Falana, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily, described the act of parading suspects who have not been pronounced guilty by the Court, as illegal.
“Apart from the EFCC and the Customs, all law enforcement agencies in Nigeria engage in the illegal parade of criminal suspects,” he said, explaining that the act is “prejudicial to the right of the accused person’s right to fair hearing.
“When you arrest a suspect, before investigation, or in the middle of investigation, or even upon conclusion of investigation, you rush to the media to parade them (suspects) and tell the whole world (that), they’ve made confessions and statements.”
The trend, he said is contrary to the provisions of the right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.
Falana went further to state that the illegal act was a “class matter” as the agencies usually parade poor individuals.
“If you look at it, it’s a class matter. You only parade the poor. I’ve never seen a situation where a former governor or a big shot in the society was paraded.”
“It’s limited to the poor. Armed robbery suspects, 419 boys (not the big ones), yahoo yahoo boys and ordinary people; but with respect to the rich, you dare not do that.”
Falana recounted an occasion when late Afrobeats icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was paraded by the NDLEA, noting that, “that organisation regretted the action because we went to court and sued for colossal damages”.
“At that time (I think 1997) we were asking the NDLEA to pay a 100 million Naira for parading Fela”, who had signed an exhibit form and added “in chains” to show that he had signed under duress.
According to Falana, the prosecution team was forced to beg that the case be settled out of court, as Fela had made a mockery of the system.
The lawyer stated that the act of parading a suspect could be described as “trial by media”, noting that, upon conclusion of investigations, it may be revealed that the suspect is innocent and so he may be released, because he has not been charged to court.
The Police, or the State Security Service or any of the other agencies have no power to pronounce the guilt or otherwise of a suspect, because under our law, there is presumption of innocence which is in favour of a suspect.”
Hence, until a suspect is pronounced guilty or otherwise by a Court, after having gone through a trial, you dare not pronounce guilt, Falana noted, adding that most of the confessional statements obtained by the agencies are not admissible in court, because they are obtained by torture and all manner of illegal means.
Speaking on the Nigerian justice system, Falana talked about several laws which are not respected by security agencies, especially when poor people are concerned.
He noted that although it is not compulsory for persons taken to the Police Station to write statements, officers are known for torturing people who choose not to write them.
He also said that although the law allows an accused person to seek counsel from his lawyer before making any statement, the Police is known to bar lawyers from meeting their clients at the police station.
“All these rights are not respected, with respect to the poor but when it comes to the rich, you talk of “invitation”. You don’t invite the poor. You invade their houses and arrest them; But when the EFCC, the Police wants to have what they call interaction with a big man or a big woman, you write politely”, he said.
Security Expert, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), believes that the Military may be right to say that Nigeria’s territorial integrity was still intact but believes that there were indicators that it is threatened.
This is in reaction to the Nigerian Army’s response to a 52-minute video purportedly released by the Boko Haram sect, declaring an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, Borno State.
Speaking on the Monday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, Aliyu noted that there were both technical and fundamental indicators on ground that shows that the Nigerian Military had challenges handling the security situation.
He said that the goings on in the Army in recent times have shown that the sect must have been emboldened to take the step they took, making reference to issues like soldiers’ alleged mutiny, protests by soldiers’ wives, as well as complaints of lack of motivation and equipment to match the terrorists.
“From my side of the table as an observer I think time will confer or un-confer the truth of that statement or that position. But if we want to play it safe, I will want to assume that given the indicators that the adversaries have gleaned off, the goings in the Army in the last six to nine weeks, its not unlikely that they’ve been emboldened to take that step and make that declaration whether for truth or for fallacy.”
He added that Nigeria has not been focused about the State of Emergency it declared in the states affected by insurgency, as “somebody should be in charge” but this hasn’t been so.
He stated particularly that the issues within the Army had become one that needed to be addressed at a time when the soldiers were still complaining to their authorities. He warned that a situation where they stop complaining would make the situation worse.
Sophisticated weapons were on display in the video released by the sect and there have been questions about the possibility of military equipment being among those used by the Boko Haram sect. Aliyu said that the sect could have looted the military facilities they have attacked in the past.
He, however, also revealed there are black markets for arms all over the West African region and the sect could have acquired them or looted different locations to get the sophisticated weapons on display in their latest video.
“We have an Army that is more physical than mental” Aliyu said, adding that the insurgency in the country was an opportunity for Nigeria to improve on its military tactics but unfortunately the Army was still doing things the old way.
“We are just doing, we are not thinking”, he said.
He wondered why questions were not being asked about the reason why the sect was bent on taking over Gwoza. He recalled that the sect had successfully eliminated the Emir of Gwoza and activities that followed showed that there had been a plan.
“From the account of the average man who lives there (Gwoza) the presence of the insurgents is louder than that of the military troops” Aliyu said this based on his personal research on the web, checking the social media spaces of persons who are residents of Gwoza.
The military capacity to carry out thorough investigation also came to the fore, and Capt. Aliyu maintained that the reason why the Nigerian Army seemed incapable of this was that the personnel lacked the enabling environment to replicate some of the laudable performances they record when on international duties and trainings.
“We tend to look at the physical soldier, what about the psychological soldier?” Aliyu asked.
“The zombies Fela sang about is long extinct, today’s soldiers are people of these times, not Fela’s times when he sang Zombie.
“The Army is a community with its own values and culture and its also a subset of the larger Nigerian community.
“When you go recruiting to bring in soldiers, you are going to bring the majority of your recruits from the Nigerian youths who share the same social, mental fads. You’ll be getting the ‘Dorobuchi’ generation and the ‘Skelewu’ guys to come and become soldiers.
“Now, you cannot just get a soldier to follow you to battle just because you said so, he has to believe in you.”
He stressed that the Army needs to “step out of the stereotype” and do things differently.
He also said that there was need to develop a culture whereby monies spent on the military are accounted for. While admitting that this does not mean that details of all military procurements should be made public, he insisted that they should be bench marked and taken responsibility for, as regards what has been achieved with them.
While maintaining his earlier stance, aligning with the military statement that the Boko Haram claims could be untrue, he said that he expects to see a robust military action which would indicate that things were not being taken for granted.
Capt. Aliyu believes that the alleged take-over of Gwoza, which is a border town, means that Cameroon would also have started giving focus to their side of the region too.
He, however, also stated that this was not a totally military issue, but an opportunity for the Customs, Civil Defence Corps and other agencies to upgrade their operations to be able to address the situation.
He referred to the setting up of the Civilian JTF as one that would make him cry, as it only indicates the inability of the Nigerian military to handle the security challenges in the country.
A total of 15,485 bags of 50kg rice with a duty paid value of approximately 173million Naira have been seized by the Oyo /Osun Area Command of Customs in the past one year as a result of intensified heat on illegal importation of rice into the 2 states.
Making this disclosure in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Oyo/Osun Area Comptroller of Customs, Richard Oteri, several unscrupulous Nigerians have resolved to make smuggling their tasks in life despite its attendant risks to the lives of individuals and the economy of the country at large.
Oteri added that the command was poised to make the business as unprofitable as possible for those who refuse to heed repeated government warning on smuggling.
The latest seizure of the command included 9 buses fully loaded with 481 bags of 50kg rice, fairly used cars, fabrics, and among other items.
Seizures and offloading of carefully concealed rice has become a common scene at the headquarters of Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Customs in Ibadan the Oyo State capital. Between March 2013 and March 2014 alone, almost 16,000 bags of 50kg rice have been intercepted, with the duty paid value put at about 173 million Naira.
Oteri disclosed that the smugglers get more crafty by the day, concealing rice with items like charcoal, yam flour, saw dust, yams, cassava waste and other dairy products.
He added that the Comptroller-General of Customs remains resolute in his commitment to fully implement the rice import policy and warned Nigerians who patronise neighbouring African ports instead of the nation’s sea sorts for smuggling purposes to desist from the act or lose their investment.
The Nigerian Police acknowledges that they have some challenges in curtailing the incessant attacks by Fulani herdsmen on communities in Northern Nigeria.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, was on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Friday, where he spoke about the several issues contributing to the spate of violence in Nigeria.
First among these is Climate Change. He said: “In Africa, there are studies that suggested that in the past 5 decades for example, over 800 lakes and water bodies have dried up.
“There are also obvious signs that parts of the North (Nigeria) and parts of Africa where traditionally, grazing thrives are also drying up, and that’s one of the challenges.”
Mba also mentioned the crisis in Mali, Chad, Central African Republic, and the collapse of the government in Libya, as having created additional problems in Africa and contributed to the growth of violence in Nigeria with leftovers of weapons getting into the wrong hands.
He noted that the normal herdsmen, who usually move around with sticks, now have access to firearms, adding that Nigerians also needed to be aware that not all men with firearms causing havoc in their communities are actually Nigerians.
Nevertheless, he revealed that the Police was working on improving capacity to curtail the activities of the perpetrators of violence. He mentioned the ongoing upgrade of surveillance facilities including the building of helipads in the affected regions as being among the major measures being taken to further protect lives and property across the country.
He, however, added that creating a long term solution was much more important, and this lies in creating policies that would keep grazers away from farmlands.
On the human capacity of the Police to truly handle the situation, Mba said that the Nigeria Police Force would be more efficient with better trained, better equipped and well-motivated men, rather than just having a large number of men without the necessary mind-set, skills and equipment to protect Nigerians.
The capacity of the Police to manage the forthcoming 2015 general elections also came to the fore, as there had been fears about the ability of Policemen to help prevent violence during the polls.
Mba gave assurances that the Nigerian Police was indeed very ready to ensure peace during the elections. He expressed confidence that they were not going to do it alone but with the support of other legitimate law enforcement agencies like the Customs, the Nigerian Immigration Service, Civil Defence Corps, and the military who they expect would work with them from a distance.
A forty feet container loaded with 612,000 copies of pirated DVDs and 45,900 units of DVD jackets estimated at N300 million has been confiscated by operatives of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.
A report by the Ports Monitoring Officer of NCC, Mr. Joe Ojika, which disclosed this in Lagos on March 8, 2013, stated that upon a tip-off to the Custom Officers of the Commission, the container marked MRKU4366990 was intercepted on the verge of leaving the port on March 6, 2013.
It indicated that a vehicle with Registration No. XU 814 BDG which freighted the container was turned back at the exit gate of the port for anti piracy inspection at the Enforcement Department of the NCS.
“A joint inspection team made up of officers of the Nigeria Customs Service drawn from its various units and the NCC officers conducted inspection on the container on 7th March 2013,” it stated.
According to the report, “The inspection revealed that the container contains 600 cartons with each carton containing 1,020 copies (612,000 copies in all) of cinematographic DVDs and 45,900 units of empty jackets. The estimated market value of the contents of the container is put at about N300 million”.
It stated that investigation was on-going, adding that the container would soon be handed over to the Commission by the Customs.
It would be recalled that last year, the Commission, in collaboration with Nigeria Customs Service, recorded an unprecedented confiscation of 13 containers of 3.6 billion (3,613,315) units of pirated products, valued at N4.75 billion at different seaports in the country. Whereas, 11 of the containers were stacked with pirated books of Nigerian and foreign authors, the remaining two were loaded with pirated musical and film works of local and foreign titles.
This brings to 14 the total number of containers of pirated copyright works impounded so far at a cumulative total estimated cost of N5.05 billion.