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Barely four days after the Senate Committee Chairman on Customs and Excise, Chief Hope Uzodimma, representing Orlu Zone of Imo State said terminal operators by the concession agreements they signed should provide scanners for Customs operations, the President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero has faulted him.
Besides, another stakeholder and maritime lawyer, Chief Victor Ugomba said “the lawmakers got it wrong because in the beginning, it was not so and cannot be so”.
He argued that “mandating terminal operators to provide scanners for Customs may create rooms for abuse of critical process in the value chain of surveillance because somebody can ask scanners designers to produce some that can be blind to certain goods and that will be bad for us Nigerians”.
Continuing, Amiwero said that terminal operators should be responsible for provisions of scanners used for examinations at the ports and argued that nowhere in the world do terminal operators supply scanners for Customs examination at the ports.
According to him, “Scanners are security documents and trade tools under the World Customs Organization (WCO). It is a national project and not a thing to be supplied by private sector. It is never done anywhere in the world”.
He said there was actually no need to procure new scanners but to repair the existing ones noting that the problem with the scanning machines at the port is that they do not have software to detect ammunition.
While explaining that the present scanners are solely for revenue generation rather than for security purposes, he submitted that the challenges experienced with the scanners was due to the fact that there was no proper transition plan before customs took over destination inspection from the erstwhile service providers.
He said “The problem with the scanners is because they were not transferred properly. If they were transferred properly, the maintenance; spare parts and the labour should have given us new scanners. But because we are in a hurry that is why we are in the state we are today.
“We requested the service providers then in 2011 that they should supply the software for security. We can still do that in the scanners we have now so that it can access things like drugs and ammunition.
“The scanners we have now are for revenue which is not the purpose of the scanners. What we need is two types of scanners, one for revenue and one for security,” he said.
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