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Ex-Customs boss proposes regional prohibition list to curb smuggling

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•Harps on training of officers, brokers

By Godwin Oritse, Godfrey Bivbere & Eguono Odjegba

Edo, Delta, Customs
Nigeria Customs Service

A FORMER Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Mr. Ahmed Kodjoli Bello, has proposed a list of prohibited cargoes that will be adopted in the West African sub-region with a view to curbing smuggling within the region.

Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report in Lagos, weekend, Bello said, ”When Col. Hameed Ali was appointed, a relation of mine asked me to sit down with him and give him some useful advise that will help him succeed in his new appointment and I did, and my emphasis was on training and capacity building for Customs comptrollers downward.

“I told him to train them on Customs procedures and regulation.”

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He explained that besides the training of Customs officers, Customs agents also needs to be trained on Customs procedure.

The former Customs boss also disclosed that before he left the Service, he ordered for a marine vessel to help the Customs patrol the waters and curb smuggling through the waterways, but stated that ”today, these vessels are nowhere to be found”.

He also said: “What the service requires today is knowledge through training. When I was head of the Customs service, I started the training programme for officers. If you do not have that knowledge, the Service cannot function well.

“Look at what is happening today with the border closure, it is a very simple thing; you do not expect the Benin Republic Customs to do your work for you.

“What they need is to harmonize because presently, we have the same passport, we have the same Common External Tariff, CET, and we are going to adopt the same currency soon.

“What I think is that they should come together and adopt a single import and export prohibition list. Once it is prohibited in Benin, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the officers there will try to ensure that these goods do not enter their country.

“If the prohibited items cannot enter Benin, there is no way it will come to Nigeria. So they need training, not only the Customs officers, the Customs agents also need training.”

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