Attacks on Hameed Ali: NAGAFF indicts retired, serving customs officers

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The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has described as uncalled for verbal attacks on the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.) in recent times by retired and serving customs officers.

The National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche who made the assertion in a chat with newsmen in Lagos on Friday observed that the retired officers had no moral justification to attack Ali since they were not able to make the required change while they were in the system which necessitated the appointment of the current CG as an outsider to come and right the wrongs of the retired officers.

In his words, “The CG attack some time ago by our respected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Fadahunsi on the person of Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), the issue still remain that if customs officers both serving and those retired had done the right thing, there is no way the government will find it easy to bring in an outsider to head customs. It is an anomaly but because the Presidency wanted to correct some anomalies, that was why it brought in a neutral person.

“But those now accusing the CG of customs, with due respect, they were in that system but they couldn’t correct it. I remember that the former CG of customs was a two term Vice President of the World Customs Organization (WCO) for West and Central Africa but still they could not bring about modernization of customs system. We helped customs to fight the Service providers to retrieve all the scanning machines back to customs in line with the Destination Inspection regime but deliberately, they claimed that the scanners are not working. It is just deliberate that the scanners are not working but they were working perfectly before they took over and today, the debate is whether it is customs that should provide scanners or terminal operators. That argument shouldn’t arise at all.

“So, if anybody is coming now to attack the CG of customs for any reason at all, I will see that customs officer whether serving or retired as not doing the right thing because if I am a customs officer, I should bury my face in shame. I am telling you this because attacking the CG of customs for whatever thing he must have done wrong means that you have failed to realize that he is not a career customs officer. That is why some of those things should be ignored because he is not a career officer. We shouldn’t take some of those issues serious rather what I should expect from the retired and serving customs officers is to team up and see the way to support this man and once the correction he has come to do in customs is completed, he will give way because he can’t remain here forever.”

Uche who is also a member of the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) also said, “it is uncalled for that there should be attack in any way because some of these people that attacking and saying all sorts of things, they were in the system but they couldn’t do anything, so, why are they raising issue now? Today, the Senate Committee on Customs went to Port-Harcourt to examine containers because they are suspecting about 200 containers as carrying ammunition, is that the procedure? Just in this line with what Hope Uzodimma did when he was the Chairman of that committee, he started issuing DN and Police copied that and started some time ago following customs procedure to issue DN from Zone 2.

“So, these are some of the uncertainties that the system will always generate. So, I will advise the customs officers whether retired or serving, they don’t have any moral justification to attack this man because you were there or you are still there, what were you able to do? Reformation of customs right from 90s when they migrated to ASYCUDA 2.3 to 2.7 before the last one around 2008 or thereabout when we got to 3.0 during Dikko period, now we are talking about NICIS I and NICIS II, where is the value addition? Just look at how the system is. Today now, the entire clearance process, if not for the task force and the strike force that were set up, the risk management tool seem not to be there anymore because the system is supposed to be the one sorting out all these things. So, let them go and put their house in order.”

Photo: NAGAFF National President, Chief Increase Uche.

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