Collaborate with freight forwarders to end smuggling, Ajuzie urges Customs CG, Ali


A former Chairman of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Apapa chapter, Dr. Fred Ajuzie has urged the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) to collaborate freight forwarders if he hopes to end smuggling in the country.

Ajuzie who made this appeal while speaking with our correspondent in Lagos recently submitted that he (Ali) should seek opinion from freight forwarders on ways to solve smuggling issue than going to seek opinion from the customs officers as according to him, freight forwarders were better placed to advise him on smuggling as they have more practical solutions to the menace than customs officers.

While regretting that NCS don’t carry major stakeholders along in their policy making, he maintained that the major stakeholders were those people licensed by the Service to carry on the activities of cargo clearing in the port insisting that they were the first class stakeholders but it failed to carry them along.

He stated that past customs administrations in Nigeria, particularly, that of the immediate past Comptroller General of Customs, Late Dikko Inde Abdullahi made a lot of progress in this regard because customs was interacting with stakeholders at the command, zonal and national levels on monthly basis and in most cases bi-weekly even as he wondered why such was not happening under this administration.

Speaking on raiding of markets in search of foreign rice by customs operatives, Ajuzie who is the Managing Director/ CEO of Pat-Fuze Investment Limited said, “This has been an old story talking about rice matter, I mean it is funny. Every time, we are talking about imported rice. In my own opinion, this was one of the reasons that made them to close the borders for more than one year. Are we still talking about imported rice? So, they could not be able to achieve success in this regard? Now, the land border is open and you are still talking about imported rice? And when border was closed, there were imported rice all over the places, now that the border is open; you are still talking about imported rice. How?

“At the ports, war against importation of rice is there, at the border, war against importation of rice is there and it remains up till tomorrow. Containers of imported rice have been held at the port as seized and the Area Controller, everybody has been in war with containers carrying imported rice and nobody imports again.”

“This CG should not indict himself. He is not a customs officer; he came in from the military background to oversee the customs. I know he is a trained military officer but he is not a trained customs officer. See, let me tell you the structure of customs, today you are FOU Controller, tomorrow, you become Apapa Controller and Apapa Controller will go to FOU or to the border. Today, you are an enforcement officer along the road, tomorrow you become a releasing officer, where is the specialization?

“You saw goods in the market, how did it get there? You are the one releasing the goods from the borders; there is no border in Nigeria that the customs is not manning. If they say that they don’t have manpower, what stops them form recruiting youths who don’t have job and train them? If we say we don’t have manpower, we are telling ourselves lies.

“Strategically, customs have recruited up to four thousand; the only thing is that they recruited children of the elites who don’t want to go to the border. They want to remain in ASYCUDA where air conditioner will be blowing them. They have enough manpower but who are those who are going to be at the borderline? Is it the person with the laptop that wants to remain with the laptop? If you go to Strike Force, there is one boy that has been there since the inception of Strike Force, is he the only one in customs? Can’t he go the land border? He should be removed and posted to somewhere else. They have recruited enough manpower, they should distribute them. Go to CPC, I know the advent of ICT reduces manpower but the ICT is being over flooded”, he added.

Photo: Former Chairman, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Apapa chapter, Dr. Fred. Ajuzie.

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