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Act allows Customs to appropriate seized items including foods—Aniebonam

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…As Ministry Worries Over Non- Involvement

Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and former Customs Officer, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has explained that the Act establishing the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) empowers it to at its own discretion, appropriate only seized items and not over-time cargoes which are managed purely on presidential discretion.

Reacting to the recent viral news that the NCS has concluded plan to dispose seized food items littering its formations across the nation as part of efforts to mitigate rising hardship, he said the Service can do that even by harmonizing the items and handing same over to states’ governors or any other means possible to manage in the interest of Nigerians.

However, in another telephone interview with Business Hilights, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, who pleaded anonymity, said “Whereas we are yet to be involved or contacted by the Nigerian Customs, it is only our ministry that has the authentic register of vulnerable Nigerians whom such food items are intended for”.

According to the official, “The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs remains the only agency empowered by law to share food and related items to Nigerians. So, we are watching”.

Recall that in a statement issued on Tuesday by the PRO, Customs said “In response to the critical challenges of food security and the soaring costs of essential food items in Nigeria, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, reaffirms his commitment to advancing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s food security agenda. This commitment is deeply rooted in the NCS’s core mandate of serving the best interests of the Nigerian people, thereby fostering economic stability and prosperity.

“In line with this vision, the service has launched a strategic anti-smuggling operation and public engagement in its commitment to prevent the unlawful exportation of vital food resources for individual economic gains. This urgent imperative fuels the need for a proactive stance to safeguard food availability within our nation and alleviate the detrimental effects of scarcity on citizens.

“Furthermore, to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians and improve access to essential food items, the Nigeria Customs Service will facilitate the direct disposal of food items forfeited to the Federal Government. These items will be certified fit for consumption by relevant agencies and made available to ordinary Nigerians nationwide through equitable distribution in our Areas of Operations.

“The modalities for the disposal will be communicated through NCS formations nationwide, with a firm commitment to transparency, fairness, and public safety. It is our pledge that this exercise will be managed diligently to ensure that the benefits reach those most in need

“The NCS remains resolute in its dedication to safeguarding the nation’s food security and advancing the economic well-being of all Nigerians. With the unwavering support and cooperation of the public, we will surmount these challenges and pave the way for a more prosperous future for our beloved nation,” the Customs averred.

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