The Customs Area Controller of Apapa Command, Willy Egbudin, has called on all agencies of government to collaborate in the examination process at the seaports.
He said this at a breakfast meeting with the agencies in Apapa where he emphasised the need to imbibe international best practice to achieve an efficient port system that would save time and increase government’s revenue without compromising national security.
Egbudin said, ‘’We all are part of one whole body that should function together. It will be good in the interest of the country for us to work together always by being available for joint examination when the need arises.
“This is because terminal operators cannot leave containers on the ground unattended to for too long as it will impede on their time and space management drive.”
He lamented the absence of some government agencies during joint examination of cargo only for such agencies to later demand for repositioning of the examined consignments, thereby causing delays and increasing the cost of doing business at the ports.
He urged various heads of the agencies present at the meeting to take advantage of the laudable Nigeria Customs Information System portal, which enables agencies to know about regulated products under their purview and the time for joint examination.
Egbudin was supported by representatives of the Nigerian Shippers Council, who expressed the council’s position to promote fair trade and make Nigerian seaports attractive and competitive for legitimate business.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control, Standards Organisation of Nigeria and Nigeria Environmental Standards Regulation Enforcement Agency.
Also in attendance at the meeting were representatives of Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Service, licensed customs agents and freight forwarders.
In a related development, the Nigeria Customs Service Board has secured conviction for six suspects, charged to court in 2013 for conspiracy, forgery and counterfeiting.
The spokesperson for the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Uche Ejesieme, said in a statement that the accused persons were arraigned for a five counts before Justice Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on September 11, 2013.
It read, “In a judgment delivered on June, 2016, Hon Justice Musa Kurya of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, found the six accused persons guilty of the five counts.
“Consequently, each accused person was sentenced to two years imprisonment on each of the five counts, that is 10 years imprisonment each, which will run concurrently.”
Expressing appreciation for the major legal breakthrough, the Controller of the unit, Umar Dahiru, commended the judiciary for its forthrightness in the delivery of judgment.
He said, “Other cases involving other suspects apprehended in connection with other offences are ongoing at the Federal High Court.”
The statement added, “The six accused persons were alleged to have counterfeited Nigeria Customs Service Allocation paper ref. NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.1/C VOL IV dated June 4 2013 with serial number 0002095 for 1x20ft container no GESU 2339750.
“They were also found to be in possession of counterfeited official seal of the Comptroller-General of Customs, counterfeited the seal of the officer in charge of valuation, Nigeria Customs Service, Idiroko, Ogun State Command and the official seal of valuation seat, Apapa port in the Apapa Command, contrary to the provisions of section 162 (a) and (d) of Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.”