By Bennett Oghifo
A maritime expert, Prince Olusegun Ologbese has hailed the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the discovery of arms and ammunition in Lagos ports since the beginning of the year.
Not less than 1, 000 pump action rifles had been discovered by officers and men of the NCS in the nation’s seaports, especially the ones situated in Lagos.
While the first one was intercepted earlier in the year shortly after they were cleared at Nigeria’s premier port, Apapa Quay, the service has in the last two months discovered more containers laden with lethal weapons at Nigeria’s second busiest and largest port, Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIP), Apapa. The dangerous weapons which were concealed in building materials to divert the prying eyes of security operatives are high on the Import Prohibition List (IPL) prepared by the Federal Government in line with its fiscal policies.The IPL and its export counterpart, Export Prohibition List (EPL) are enforced by the Customs High Command so that the Federal Government can attain set goals and objectives according to its fiscal policies.
From the details in the bill of lading, all the consignments containing the dangerous weapons have the same consignee and port of origin in Turkey. In a chat with THISDAY, Ologbese who is also the chief executive officer (CEO), Ogbese Marine Services Limited and a veteran in the clearing and forwarding business stated that officers and men of the NCS should be commended for a job well done.
He specifically lauded the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Colonel Ibrahim Hameed Ali (retired) and his management team for the successes recorded since he was appointed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
“The Customs Area Controllers (CACs) of Apapa Area Command, Tin Can Island Port Area Command, and the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos should be given a pat on the back for their efforts in ensuring that the illegal weapons were intercepted”, he said. He wondered what would been the consequences if the dangerous consignments were not discovered by the officers and men of the NCS.
His words: “The consequences of these illegal arms and ammunition getting into wrong hands in the society are better imagined than experienced. To say the least, they would have brought pains and sorrow into many families. Many would have been killed or maimed by these dangerous weapons if the officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service had not lived up to their statutory roles and responsibilities.
That is why we must commend the CGC and his men for a job well done.
“Whatever bad impressions Nigerians might have had about Customs in the past should be jettison in the light of these recent wonderful performances. Apart from the huge revenue it has generated into the coffers of the Federal Government, the discoveries have shown that the officers and men involved in the operations shunned all forms of inducements to look the other way. This has proved that the Nigeria Customs Service has turned a new leaf and Nigerians should start reposing confidence in it”.
He enjoined officers and men of the NCS not to rest on their oars as the perpetrators may devise new means of evading them as the count down to the Yuletide approaches.
The maritime expert who is popularly called “Alaye Baba” maintained that eternal vigilance should be the watchword of the service in the months ahead.