Arms importation: Customs Introduces Strategy to Streamline Goods Clearance

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Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd.)

Eromosele Abiodun

Following the recent illegal flow of arms into the country, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is set to introduce the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) as means to curtail importation of such dangerous ammunitions into the country.

The AEO is a programme introduced by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in conjunction with national Customs administration to facilitate trade with the security situation associated with the import and export businesses cross international border.

Customs Controller General (CCG), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), disclosed this at a one-day sensitisation workshop in the Apapa Command of the NCS.
Ali was represented by the Deputy Comptroller General of Customs on Strategic Research and Planning (SR&P), Patience Iferi.

According to him, “the need for stakeholders in the maritime sector to get involved in the AEO is of enormous importance as this will further boost a safe frame work of standards and as well secure and facilitate global trade as its been done in the other part of the world. If Uganda a very small country in terms of population and sizes can celebrate and embrace the AEO, why should Nigeria the giant of Africa not boast of the AEO?”
Ali further stressed that getting involved will help stakeholders to trade internationally rather than being limited to local trade.

Also speaking earlier, Deputy Controller, Mark Leo, the AEO team Leader for Zone “A” informed that the increase in volume of trade between and among countries and the changing trends in supply chain made it imperative for Customs administration to review the role of Customs in international trade, and as well sensitize the business community on the need for operations as AEO.

On selection of operators, she emphasized that there is need for stakeholders to be trustworthy and transparent as this is the major requirement to be an AEO operator.

“Other requirement includes, must be an economic operator and part of supply chain, record of compliance with customs with customs legislation and taxation rules, including no record of serious criminal offences relating to economic activity of the applicant. The applicant should have operated in the country for three years and above without any problem with the relevant authorities in the country,” he said.

The NCS had recently intercepted another container that contained yet another cache of arms imported from Turkey.
The interception came barely one week after the command intercepted a 20-foot container load of 1,100 pump action rifles.

THISDAY investigations had revealed that the container with number, CMAU189817/8 was believed to contain about 475 pump action rifles.

THISDAY had exclusively reported that the pump action rifles were discovered after the Customs Area Comptroller of the Command, Comptroller Bashir Yusuf, ordered a detailed profiling of the importer of the 1,100 rifles intercepted last week.

After the detailed profiling, it was discovered that the container belonged to the same importer.
This seizure is the third in the series of containers loads of arms seizure at Tin-Can port alone and fourth in the country within eight months.

A source, who witnessed the examination of the container, told THISDAY that the rifles were concealed with small connecting pipes.

According to the source, “The container was owned by the same importer of the 1,100 guns. After a detailed profiling of the importer ordered by the Area Comptroller, it was discovered that he still has another container inside the port, so they fished it out.

“But I don’t know why they are hiding the identity of the importer; it could even be the government themselves importing these weapons.”

However, when contacted the National Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah, said a container was suspected and it was yet to be examined to know what is inside.

“Let’s not speculate about arms please. A container is being suspected and examination will reveal whatever is inside,” he said in a short SMS.