Arms Importation: Customs Accused of Contravening ICA Framework

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Eromosele Abiodun

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has stated that the current process of inspection of imported goods in the country encourages the influx of arms, ammunition, drugs, counterfeit goods, small arms, hazardous waste and human trafficking.

NCMDLCA stated this in a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, signed by its national president, Mr. Lucky Amiwero.

Amiwero alleged that the process contravenes the International Cargo Agreement (ICA), the World Customs Organisation (WCO) SAFE Framework that allows non-intrusive inspection of outbound and inbound inspection in compliance with Custom-to-Customs Standard procedures, which is to secure and facilitate global trade as contained in the WCO SAFE Framework, for the interest of the security and the economy of the nation.

The present Inspection process, he added, also contravenes the global multi-layered security protocol, the WCO SAFE Framework adopted by the World Customs Organisation globally after the destruction of the twin tower of World Trade Centre in America on September 11, 2001 by Al Qaeda, which clearly exposed the vulnerability of international trade to terrorist exploitation on cross-border transportation security.

According to him, “As Sub-committee Chairman on the Draft report of Presidential Task force on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service and member of Presidential Committee on Destination Inspection (DI) IN 1999/2006, we have noticed serious defects and security threats in the Destination Inspection(DI) regime that encourages the influx of arms, ammunition and unwholesome product in the country due to the process that allows inspection in the country, without the application of the Supply chain security mechanism adopted globally to secure the domestic environment.”
He therefore stressed the urgent need for Nigeria as a contracting party to the global multi-layered security protocol the WCO SAFE Framework of standard to comply by reducing the illicit–cross border movement of unwholesome goods into the country.

He called on the federal government to urgently repair the collapse scanners in the ports that is the core on Security tool to reduce the influx of illicit goods in the country.
He said: “There is the urgent need to safeguard and secure our nation from the influx of arms, ammunition, narcotics, dirty bomb, unwholesome items and Weapon of mass destruction (WMD) through the implementation of provision of international Cargo Security Agreement.

There is the need to accommodate various pre-shipment inspection process conducted by other government agencies such as Customs, NAFDAC, SON among, that are involved in quality , quantity and value assessment of imported goods as practiced globally to safeguard the national security and reduce the process and cost of multiple charges. The federal government must urgently constitute a committee of trade procedure experts to address the short fall in the import process.”
He said Nigeria practice Destination Inspection (DI) of import which allows goods to be imported into the country without inspection.

This, he added, contravenes various provisions of Customs-to-Customs standards on WCO SAFE Framework of standard to secure and facilitate global trade adding that, “Destination Inspection process of import on cargo allows the illicit cross-border movement of weapons of Mass Destruction(WMD), Drugs, Arms, Ammunitions, counterfeit merchandised hazardous waste and human trafficking as presently practiced in Nigeria.”

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Ikeja had recently arrested three men identified as Mr. Oscar Okafor, Mahmud Hassan and Sadique Mustapha over unlawful importation of 49 boxes containing a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles concealed in a container of steel doors and other merchandise goods.
The Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col Hameed Ali (Rtd.) who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos, stated that the arms were cleared at the Apapa Port with the aid of two customs officers who are now been investigation.

He said the arms originated from Turkey and routed through China before it was smuggled into Nigeria and falsely declared as steal doors.
He said the roving team of the NCS federal operations unit while on information patrol on Sunday, January 22, 2017, intercepted a Mark truck with registration number BDG 265 XG, conveying a 1×4 container with number: PONU/825914/3 along mile 2 Apapa-Oshodi Express Road.