The federal government thursday blamed the agitation in Southern part of Cameroon for the upsurge in the importation of illegal arms into Nigeria.
The government also accused shipping firms particularly foreign lines operating in the country of aiding and abetting illegal arms importation.
Disclosing this at a stakeholders meeting at the Headquarters of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, in Lagos, Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Handed Ali, (Rtd.) said that the illegal importation of arms and ammunition was the biggest concern facing the Customs Service.
Ali also said that the trend has not only become a source of concern to all Nigerians but also to the security wellbeing of neighbouring countries.
The customs boss explained that if shipping firms collaborate with the NCS to block the loopholes that importers were exploiting, the situation would be reduced to the barest minimum.
He warned that any vessel caught in the transportation of prohibited and banned cargoes will be arrested and detained, and warned that the security of the country cannot be compromised.
The retired army officer also told shipping companies that change in ship manifest midway into a voyage will henceforth be unacceptable noting that, that was what the arms importers used bringing his illicit cargoes to Nigeria.
He also said the all containerised cargoes must be palletised except for bulk cargoes.
According to him, “The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container will no more be acceptable. Carrying out examination on unpalletised cargoes was always a problem as palletisation of containerised cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster. We must have standard, we must have synergy between you and us that way we can achieve 24 hours cargo clearance time.”
Explaining further, Ali said that in the light of implementing the Executive Order which was signed by the Vice President Mr. Yemi Osinbojo as Acting President, the customs need the cooperation of every stakeholders so as to make the implementation of the Order successful.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) Hassan Bello called on stakeholders to join hands with the Customs Service to make the port a better place to do business and facilitate trade.
He said the execution of trade policies alone without the cooperation of stakeholders could make the Executive Order unimplementable.