By Godwin Oritse
THE Federal Government through the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with its Turkish counterpart with a view to stemming the importation of arms, ammunition and other illicit cargoes.
Speaking to newsmen at a stakeholders meeting held at Nigerian Shippers Council, Apapa, Lagos, Comptroller General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali, (Rtd) accused shipping firms, particularly, foreign lines, operating in the country of aiding and abetting illegal arms importation, saying that the illegal importation of arms and ammunition was the biggest concern facing the customs service.
Ali also said that the trend has not only become a source of concern to the Customs, but also security risk to the neighbouring countries.
He explained that the mutual agreement between both countries is such that all import emanating from Turkey would be transmitted to the Nigeria Customs before the arrival of the cargoes.
He further disclosed that the Customs Service has handed over the list of prohibited items to its Turkish counterpart.
He said “ The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container will no more be acceptable.
“ Carrying out examination on unpalletized cargoes is always a problem as palletization of containerized cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster. We looked at issues affecting the maritime industry especially with regards to shipment of arms and that was why we invited the shipping lines and other stakeholders. We have sat down, we have listened, we have resolved with stakeholders that we will work together and they have given us their commitment.
“There were issues that were raised when I spoke at the opening of the meeting which brought issues like manifest and midstream transfer to the fore and the shippng companies have given suggestion on how best we can approach these issues.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary, NCS, 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.