Decrying the prevailing rate of smuggling, the Customs spokesman said further: “It will surprise you to know that there are many Nigerians that still see smuggling as business, not a crime.
“But I have you know that smuggling is not just a crime, but the mother of every crime, like a pregnant woman that gives birth. It is through smuggling that armed robbers will get their arms from the black market, through smuggling we get dangerous drugs, through smuggling, we get rice that is injurious to your health.”
He, however, reiterated the commitment of the service in effectively curbing the menace of smuggling for the overall interest of the nation.
The Nigeria Customs Service says it has detained four members of the patrol team involved in the killing of a civilian ‘friend’ named Godwin Onoja.
According to a statement by its spokesman, DC Joseph Attah, a panel set up to investigate the killing could not conclude its investigation because the officer, who accidentally shot Onoja, Destiny Onebamho, was receiving medical attention after he was attacked by motorists following the killing.
Attah said following the unfortunate incident on Sunday 17th February 2019 at Shagamu Interchange involving Operatives of the Federal Operations Unit Zone A, the Customs has continued to maintain close contact with the bereaved family.
“We are pained by this sad development and share the grief of losing a fellow compatriot in a seemingly avoidable circumstance. We are and will continue to take every necessary step that will cushion the pain associated with losing a dear one,” Attah stated.
He further informed that the Comptroller-General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) has directed a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident with the view to ensuring that justice is served.
“In line with this directive, the investigation panel headed by the Zonal Coordinator Zone A, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie has interrogated and detained four members of the patrol team.
“The panel could not immediately conclude the investigation because the actual officer (ASCI Destiny Onebamho) whose riffle discharged is presently receiving medical attention as a result of attack following the unfortunate incident.
“He will face the panel as soon as he is fit to do so, to enable the panel to conclude the investigation and recommend appropriate action(s).
“NCS is a reputable organization known for integrity and responsibility. In line with our corporate values, we will not shield any operative found wanting in this ongoing investigation. The Service appreciates the public concern and strong emotions drawn from the viral video with narratives that created various opinions.
“Nigerians will recall that in 2017, the Service made public its investigation and dismissal of five (5) officers implicated in the illegal release of the 661-pump action rifles from Apapa Port. The dismissed officers were immediately handed over for prosecution alongside the importer and agent. A prosecution that is ongoing at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos.
“In the same vein, the ongoing investigation will be holistic including looking at the weapon handling skills and actions that must be taken by the Service to possibly prevent future occurrence.
“We will continue to update the public details of every action taken in the handling of this unfortunate incident,” the statement read.
Assistant Comptroller and Acting Spokesman of the Nigerian Customs, Joseph Attah, has revealed that four Customs Officers as well as the importer, clearing agent and a driver, recently involved in the illegal importation of arms, have been arrested.
Giving details of what happened, the Assistant Comptroller said: “It is unfortunate that some Custom Officers and some Nigerians will want to connive and bring this kind of deadly cargo into the country.
“Immediately the weapons were discovered, they held the clearing agent and they went to arrest the importer. We also have the motor boy that was taking the consignment to the destination.
“We understand that they were heading to somewhere around Festac.
“Four Customs Officers have already been cooling their heels in our cell, they have made useful statements and there would be consequences.
Explaining further, he said: “As you know, we have our Customs Intelligence Unit all over our terminals, seaports, airports borders and all that – they keep tabs of what is happening.
“Officers of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), received a tip off as they were actually on information patrol.
“They never knew that it was this deadly, what was suspected was that maybe it was a case of false declaration, under payment and all that.
According to him, the tip off raised suspicion which led them to intercept the container at the Mile 2 area of Lagos, after which it was brought to the FOU, Ikeja.
“Their suspicion became heightened when the clearing agent was invited for examination and he kept dillydallying – Even when he showed up, he deliberately showed up towards evening time when it would become nearly impossible to examine a 1 : 40 feet container.
“The OC in charge, insisted that this container will be examined in the presence of the clearing agent – eventually, that was done and behold, they discovered this,” Attah told Channels Television.
According to him, the container was actually intercepted on January 22, while it was examined on the 27th.
Policing The Police
As to whether the arrested officers were really in the know of the content of the container, the Customs boss said “investigation will reveal all that”.
Reacting to comments that considering the rigorous nature of the clearing process at the ports, such incidents should not be heard of, Mr Attah defended that:
“Custom officers are human beings, importers are human beings, clearing agents are human beings and when you are dealing with human beings, you are bound to have one or two out of a hundred or a thousand, who are willing to compromise or they are lazy, they don’t do due diligence or a combination of all.
“The fact remains that the Nigerian Customs Service are aware of the fact that there may be some of us who would be willing to compromise or would not be committed or dedicated to their functions enough; that is why we have the intelligence unit, Federal Operations Unit and others.
According to him, the idea is to counter-balance and police the police.
“Just as we have one or two bad custom officers, we have a whole lot more who are ready to insist that the wrong must be corrected and that is why we have these seizures,” he stated. Need For Technology
Highlighting some of the areas in which more development is needed so as to curb the illegal importation of arms, the Customs boss stated the need for technology.
He mentioned the need for scanners at the borders, among other things.
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), has approved the redeployment of eight Assistant Comptrollers-General and 238 Deputy Comptrollers of Customs.
A statement by the service’s spokesman, Joseph Attah, revealed on Tuesday that the posting was in a bid to strengthen operations and reposition within the Customs to meet the challenges of the year 2017.
The service added that the redeployment takes immediate effect.
“Assistant Comptrollers-General affected are: ACG Charles Edike from Zone A to Human Resource Development (HRD); ACG Ahmed Mohammed from HRD to Zone B; ACG Aminu Dangaladima from Zone B to Enforcement; ACG Francis Dosumu from Enforcement to Zone D, ACG Augustine Chidi from Zone D to Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives (Ex,FTZ, & I I); ACG Monday Abueh from Ex,FTZ, & I I to Zone A, ACG Umar Sanusi from HQ to Zone C; (and) ACG Abdulkadir Azerema from Zone C to HQ.
“The redeployment of Deputy Comptrollers of Customs affected the service’s Public Relations Officer, DC Wale Adeniyi, who is now posted to Apapa Customs Area Command, Lagos.
“As all the affected officers report at their new zones and commands, the Comptroller-General reiterated (the) Federal Government’s ban on importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders.
“He charged all officers and men of the service to ensure maximum collection of revenue and strict implementation of fiscal policy of government,” the statement read.