Smuggling: We Have Sacked Over 2,000 Corrupt Customs Officers – Colonel Hameed Ali

A file photo of Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali.
A file photo of Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali.

 

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd) has disclosed that it has laid off and prosecuted over 2,000 of its officers that were found to have compromised the system in the last seven years, warning Nigerians to be wary of being scammed by such officers.

Speaking at the weekly ministerial briefing today, the customs CG who acknowledged that the fight against smuggling has assumed a stiffer and more sophisticated dimension, noting that the agency which is procuring additional aircrafts to effectively intercept smuggling across the borders, is doing this in collaboration with the Nigerian Airforce.


READ ALSO: INTERPOL Arrests Over 70 Suspected Fraudsters Linked To Black Axe Cult In Nigeria


He further cautioned against consumption of imported foreign rice which he said is dangerous to human health.

The Customs boss explained the imported rice are preserved with chemical and has a short life span and for this reason their officers engage in regular seizures of these items from the markets to safe guard the health of Nigerians.

According to him the seized foreign rice is distributed to IDP camps and the needy, particularly those affected by crisis (after certification by NAFDAC).

He noted that so far the customs have generated 2.143 trillion naira in 2022, as against the projected 3.019 trillion because it is yet to commence the collection of telecommunications tax and has just commenced that of carbonated drinks.

Customs Destroy Foreign Frozen Poultry Products Worth N53 Million

CustomsThe Nigeria Customs Service Federal Operations Unit, Zone C, has impounded a truck carrying 2000 cartons of foreign poultry products with duty paid value of N53 million.

Briefing journalists at the command headquarters in Owerri, the Imo State capital, the Area Comptroller of Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service, Haruna Mamudu, disclosed that the truck was apprehended by his men along Benin-Ore Axis and the frozen poultry product was neatly concealed with 3,500 cartoons of soft drinks in order to beat the security operatives on the highway.

The Comptroller said preliminary investigations showed that the smugglers were suspected to have preserved the foreign frozen poultry product with chemicals meant to preserve dead bodies which automatically is heinous to human’s health when taken.

While displaying the product, Mr Mamudu said it is rather unfortunate that some people are still hell bent in towing this kind of business even with the several warning and measures put in place by the Federal Government to check smuggling.
While ensuring that the products are destroyed, Comptroller Mamudu warned all smugglers and would be smugglers to desist from such act as the Command will not relent in their fight against smuggling and other related offenses.

In the same vein, the command also impounded a truck with Kaduna State registration number MKA 231 ZF carrying 190 cartons of fake 200 milligram tramadol hydrochloride tablets alongside 2,190 cartons of rum alcoholic drink without NAFDAC number.

The products were later handed over to NAFDAC officials for further investigation.

Other Items seized include 406 pieces of used tyres, foreign soaps, second hand clothing and 24 vehicles without customs official clearance.

The command has however disclosed that so far, 12 suspects have been arrested and a total of N65 million underpayment has been recovered.

Corruption Is Part And Parcel Of Nigerian Judiciary – John Oloyede

John_Oloyede
Mr John Oloyede

A legal practitioner, Mr John Oloyede, on Wednesday said corrupt practices in the Nigerian judicial system should no longer surprise Nigerians as it is part and parcel of that arm of government.

“It is no longer a surprise; it is part and parcel of our existence in the judicial arm of government and one can only hope that the situation will get better”, he said on Channels Television Sunrise Daily, adding that “that is where some of us make our daily living”.

He noted that there was a report jointly signed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes that fingered the judiciary of collecting “big money bribes” compared to other government agencies and parastatals that collect bribes frequently.

He also pointed out that these corrupt practices predates the tenure of the present Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, who had noted that corruption is rampant among judiciary employees including secretaries, court registrars, process clerks and bailiffs nationwide.

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria only came into office in 2012 and that was the preface of her coming into office”, adding that she told the Senate during her screening that “she is going to do the major work of wiping corruption as long as she is there”.

He argued that though there are corrupt officials amongst the judges, clerks and bailiffs, “about 90 per cent of them are actually clean. It just that the few ones that are bad tarnish the image of the very good ones who are more; they are the silent majority”.

He also alleged that those engaged in the “big money corruption” as reported by the NBS, EFCC and UN Office for Drugs and Crimes are the “secretaries and registrars” adding that “the average amount that is demanded is about $87 as compared to Customs, Police, Water Corporation and NEPA, where the average amount demanded is something like $80.

“So you are not talking about hundreds of millions. The aggregate of it is so tiny because the money is demanded by the support staff”, he added.

He further noted that the few corrupt judges “could either be complicit or innocent; a judge is so powerful that he can write a ruling and turn a night to day” maintaining that “it is only by appreciating the full extent of their powers that some of these corrupt judges will fully appreciate how much they are affecting the economic life of Nigerians.

“There are high level corrupt practices going on and there are low level corrupt practices going on within the judiciary and known to everybody” warning that “it is not about the judges alone”, he maintained.

The legal practitioner further noted that since CJN assumed office, the disciplinary committee and the NJC have done well in checking the excesses of judges.

“The last time something was ever done, ironically, was under Abacha’s regime. Some judges were sacked based on the Justice Kayode Esho’s report” adding that “as soon as the Chief Justice of Nigeria came on board, two judges were dismissed, one was given a stern warning, one voluntarily retired and became a traditional ruler, instead of facing the onslaught of investigation.

“That was because the Chief Justice of Nigeria showed them that it is not going to be business as usual”, he said.

He commended the efforts of Justice Mukhtar in ridding the judiciary of corrupt officials and practices and hoped that the next person to assume office will continue from where she stopped.

Ikechukwu_Ikeji
Ikechukwu Ikeji,

Meanwhile, another legal practitioner, Mr Ikechukwu Ikeji, noted that there is not “outstanding” reform that has been carried out by the CJN since she is assumed office especially with regards to the criminal justice system, insisting that it only touches the system.

“For example, we saw a judge who decided to go for a slap on the wrist in giving a judgment on pension scam, that the CJN ensured was brought to book.

“It touches on the criminal justice system how judges are expected to apply criminal justice laws in cases before them”, he said adding that “we saw how the judge mishandled the case (pension scam case) and used the least punishment to conclude the case and we saw how the CJN also stepped in to suspend him and some other such cases.

“So why I may not say there is a direct intervention in the criminal justice system in terms of institutionalising or procedural changes is because actions against judges that misbehave touches on the effects eventually”, he said on Sunrise Daily.

He warned that due to the lack of a proper institution, the reforms put in place by Justice Mukhtar may not last the test of time, noting that “if you tabulate the problems and you put indices against the problems in the judiciary, you will realise that most of them do not actually touch on personalities; they touch on the weak structure and loop holes.

“For example, the mode of appointment, funding, composition of the NJC, social relationships” insisting that some of these things do not have direct personal implications, they have structural issues that when taken care of, who ever comes in there will have no option than to toe the line”.

He further noted that Nigeria’s judiciary system is taking the principle of fair hearing to a “ridiculous extent” and opined that it is “necessary to look at some of those principles that highlight right to fair hearing and see how we can tweak them to achieve our purposes” adding that stay of proceedings has over the years shown to be a negative instrument to delay justice.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, lamented yesterday there are real cases of massive corruption in the judiciary which have impugned its integrity.

While speaking at the opening of ‎a national workshop organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Mukhtar noted corruption is rampant among judiciary employees including secretaries, court registrars, process clerks and bailiffs nationwide.

She also noted that the conduct of these employees was in increasing breach of the Code of Court for judiciary staff.

Mukhtar warned that any act of misconduct and breach of the code would be punished decisively to arrest the eroding public confidence in the judicial process.

Destination Inspection Scheme Has Yielded Results-Customs

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have admitted that they have faced challenges in a bid to take over the Destination Inspection Service from contracted Scanning Service Providers (SSPs) as directed by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Spokesman of the Service, Wale Adeniyi, who appeared on Channels Television’s Business Morning, however said that the Service was “coping very well and very adequately.”

He explained that having taken over the responsibility towards December, an “upbeat period” and considering the volume of “importation for Christmas and New Year”, they “were able to cope with all the challenges in volume, challenges of putting a new system in place and challenges of mobilising the stakeholders behind the new scheme”.

Also speaking on the programme, a member of the Freight Forwarders Group at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ikenna Nwosu, lauded the decision by the Federal Government to implement the policy, adding that the “organised private sector is fully in support of it” and are “partnering the customs to see it work.”

He commended the Nigeria Customs Service for taking over the scheme, which used to be handled by three agencies, admitting that “that is a lot of responsibility”.

He however berated the deluge of applications, noting that it forms a major part of the challenges the Customs Service faces in executing the project.

Due to the cumbersome nature of signing the application for the release of containers, Mr Nwosu joined other members of the organised private sector to call for an electronic application.

“As a key enabler of the process, rather than have importers accrue demurrage to their cargo, the Customs have proved that importers can take pre-release of their cargo by paying  duty based on their invoices; which is what is on now.

“They made some complains that that process is a bit drawn out, sometimes there are delays because the Area Commander is one man; he has to sign these papers”, adding that “the recommendations is that perhaps the Customs should think of making that application process electronic.”

Reacting, Mr Adeniyi, who was joining from the Abuja studios of Channels Television, explained that the Service has already implemented the electronic application process in the PAL System, insisting that “there is no point trying to replicate what we have done in PAL, which is the short gap measures that we have taken to address an emergency situation of congestion.”

He further noted that people carrying invoices to be checked and getting duties paid is a practical measure the Service has taken, revealing that those can be rectified later, if it is higher or lower.

Freight Forwarders Partner Customs To Enhance Maritime Sector Performance

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have restated their commitment to a responsible partnership for an enhanced maritime sector and boost the nation’s economy.
The association made known during a courtesy visit by a delegation of NAGAFF which included, the National President, Mr. Eugene Nweke, some members of the Board and Officers of the Association in the Eastern Zone to the Area Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone C, Owerri, David V. Dimka in his office in Owerri.
Nweke observed with delight the transformation going on in the Customs, all aimed at making the maritime industry more people-friendly, facilitate international trade and enhance the revenue base of the country.
The NAGAFF President used the occasion to call on freight forwarders to avail themselves of the various educational opportunities to improve their competence, since according, to him “the Customs of tomorrow will be different from that of yesterday”.
He commended Dimka for the giant strides being made in the fight against smuggling and other illegal trade in the zone, which he said have caught the attention of NAGAFF High Command.
DImka also commended the rapport between NAGAFF and the Customs which he noted “has been of benefit to the country”.
Dimka said “this relationship has been of much benefit to the activities of both the FOU and freight forwarders, thereby boosting international trade in the country”.
He paid  tribute to NAGAFF for the association’s robust intellectual contributions to the maritime industry, which has helped in efforts to push the country forward.
The Area Controller called for continued cooperation amongst all the stakeholders in the sector.