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Arms: Customs won’t tolerate shippers’ ignorance of cargo contents again—Ali

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali, (Rtd), has informed all foreign shipping companies that henceforth, it will no longer tolerate the excuse of no knowledge of container contents, saying “The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container will no more be acceptable”.

He accused shipping firms, particularly, foreign lines, operating in the country of aiding and abetting  illegal arms importation, saying 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 the Customs, but also security risk to the neighbouring countries.

However, stakeholders raised the issue of midstream transfer as one of the key factors fueling the illicit act.

One of the stakeholder who was present at the meeting fingered Morocco as a possible transit and trans-loading axis for illicit goods coming to Nigeria which at that point and stage can be said to be out of the knowledge of the shipping company.

Speaking in Lagos during a shipping stakeholders meeting to proffer solution on the incessant importation of arms from Turkey, he averred that “Carrying out examination on unpalletized cargoes is always a problem as palletization of containerized cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster.

“We looked at issues affecting the maritime industry especially with regards to shipment of arms and that was why we invited the shipping lines and other stakeholders. We have sat down, we have listened, we have resolved with stakeholders that we will work together and they have given us their commitment.

“There were issues that were raised when I spoke at the opening of the meeting which brought issues like manifest and midstream transfer to the fore and the shipping companies have given suggestion on how best we can approach these issues.”

Ali revealed further that NCS had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with its Turkish counterpart with a view to stemming the importation of arms, ammunition and other illicit cargoes.

He accused shipping firms, particularly, foreign lines, operating in the country of aiding and abetting  illegal arms importation, saying 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 the Customs, but also security risk to the neighbouring countries. He explained that the mutual agreement between both countries is such that all import emanating from Turkey would be transmitted to the Nigeria Customs before the arrival of the cargoes. He further disclosed that the Customs Service has handed over the list of prohibited items to its Turkish counterpart.

He said “The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container will no more be acceptable. “ Carrying out examination on unpalletized cargoes is always a problem as palletization of containerized cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster. We looked at issues affecting the maritime industry especially with regards to shipment of arms and that was why we invited the shipping lines and other stakeholders. We have sat down, we have listened, we have resolved with stakeholders that we will work together and they have given us their commitment.