NAGAFF cautions Ali over retirement of customs officers


…says emerging new DCGs and ACGs are competent officers

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called on the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) to exercise caution in the retirement of the officers in order not to lose the best of its officers.

The Deputy National President Logistics NAGAFF, Mr. Ugochukwu Nnadi who made this call in a press release he issued in Lagos on Tuesday and made available to Primetime Reporters warned that the ongoing reforms and restructuring should be made to be transparent to avoid undue speculations of witch-hunting.

Nnadi remarked that it was also important that care and circumspection were observed to avoid brain drain in the personnel and liquidity of the Service.

“We wish to acknowledge the fact that Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali had accepted the fact that NCS personnel cannot be separated from the greater numbers of Nigerians on matters of corruption.  We consider that a plus for the Customs for the reasons that the CGC is a man of honor and integrity.  On the part of the officers and men of the Service, the need to exercise caution is very important on matters of loyalty to a constituted authority which is the roadmap to success in nation building.  Government at all levels is next to God with powers of coercion to actualize its objective for the good of the greater numbers.  Therefore care should be taken to avoid the introduction of Georgian reforms in a corrupt society
by the Government.

“It is the opinion of NAGAFF that the ongoing reforms and restructuring be made to be transparent to avoid undue speculations of witch-hunting.  In the instance wherein it is alleged that the expected workforce for Comptrollers in the Service may be 75 officers, where there are over 140
Serving Comptrollers calls for extreme caution. To restructure the Service it means that half of the Comptrollers will have to go.  The modalities to disengage the officers must be transparent otherwise the exercise may attract litigations from the affected.

“We must appreciate the fact that Customs officers like other civil servants are in contract
with the Federal Government of Nigeria and therefore there must be restraint the way they are forcefully retired without reaching the mandatory date and time of tenureship.  This is without prejudices to labour law of hire and fire in private organizations and or as the case may be.  We are in a democracy.  Decree 17 of 1984 might have shielded Mr. President in matters of sackings as happened in the 1984 purge.  We urge public interest and transparency in this regard”, he said.

The NAGAFF chieftain however opined that the ongoing restructuring and reforms of the NCS was a necessity for the reasons that so many things had gone wrong in the Service since 2004 adding that it was in the public domain that external forces had not helped in the proper management and administration of Customs laws.

According to him,” The Nigeria Customs Service as a member of an international body of World Customs Organisation is expected to be sacrosanct in its existence.  The emergence of a Veterinary Doctor, Permanent Secretary and Army General respectively in the organization’s leadership in the past may not have helped the Customs. When the Service was about to recover from external influences, the “Abuja 88” officers became another intruder in the system.  Untrained and retired personnel from the Armed Forces etc. were injected into the Service at a very high ranking Cadre of the Service.  They did not undergo tutelage of growing from the ranks to master the technicalities of being proper revenue collectors of the Customs.  This was a measure of destabilization factor in the Service which they have not fully recovered from.

“Till date, the 2004 reforms had hit the Service like a thunder storm when some officers in the rank of Assistant Comptroller staged a civil service coup to usurp power and promoted themselves three steps above their colleagues in ranks. They seized power, shut down the zonal offices, and went to headquarters with operational issues rather than policy matters. Under the doctrine of necessity the service cannot afford to be a judge in its own matter.

“Accordingly the mantra of change in Nigeria is the tonic Col. Hameed Ali needed to right the wrong in the Service over the years. The mandate of Mr. President is sacrosanct and should be carried out in
the most transparent manner and time limit.  We just hope that CGC Ali would have concluded his assignment within a reasonable time when a new and a core officer of the Service should be appointed by Mr. President to save the image of Nigeria in the global world of Customs organizations.

“The emerging new DCG’S and ACG’S are core competent officers with the capacity to drive the reforms and the restructuring exercise including enhanced revenue collection duty. We shall in due course make further statement to deal with the welfare and living wages of officers which should be the driving force of the reforms.  We shall also make input on operational matters which is the core area of public concern. We pledge our support to every constitutional and institutional processes and procedures for optimal performance in the Customs ports etc.

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