FACTS emerging indicate that lack of requisite scanners have for a long time already taken a toll on the clearance of cargo by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, at the various international airports, nationwide.
Investigations show that this is owing to the moribund state of available cargo scanners believed to have been acquired more than 30 years ago, and plagued with successive declining maintenance over the years until the machines packed up.
This is even as investigations further revealed that the Customs has relied on the smaller packages scanning machines owned by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, for its operational checks, said to have caused unnecessary delays for owners of large imported consignments, across airports.
Feelers indicate that at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, the Customs also rely on NARCHO’s private scanners to check air cargo; a situation observers say is capable of breeding official compromise. Usually dependable sources informed Vanguard Maritime Report that the situation is not better at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
There are concerns that the absence of requisite cargo scanners at the airports has far reaching consequences on national security as dangerous items can find their ways easily into the country, especially given the backdrop of the history of illegal military hardware including war heads and bombs that have been intercepted at some of the international airports.
Feelers indicate that the affected customs commands have complained repeatedly in writing to the headquarters on the dilapidated state of their scanners and the need to either repair or replace them, the headquarters was said not to have responded.
Although attempts to cross check with the MMIA Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Jayne Shoboiki was unsuccessful, the Command Public Relations Officer, SC Ephraim Haruna insisted that all cargo through the command undergoes scanning, he however, declined our reporter’s request to show him around the scanning site for a prove that the customs scanners were functional.
A FAAN official at MMAI Lagos who refused to be quoted because he was not authorized to speak told Vanguard Maritime Report that FAAN is aware that allocation for the purchase of new scanners for the customs service receives regular attention, but that there is an understanding between individuals within Customs and FAAN to corner the funds, while availing the former use of the latter’s lighter weight scanning machines for smaller packages.
Commenting on the development, immediate past National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said Nigeria has sunk to the level where institutions have begun to fall victim of wide range sabotage.
He said, “It all boils down to institutional abuse. Ordinary airports cannot have functioning scanners; they’re still doing 100% examination on smaller packages not to talk of containers. Who told you our people cannot sabotage scanners?