By Ubon Akpan
Suspecting half truth and outright concealment of facts on the seizure of 40 containers of tramadol, the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP) weekend called on the management of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to make public the identity of the importer or importers who offered the sum of N150million bribe to the Customs for one of the containers to be released.
Noting that the Comptroller-General of the Service, Col. Hammed Ali(rtd) had told newsmen that the importer had offered the sum of $280,000 bribe for one of the containers to be released, the League said unveiling the personality was necessary as part of the war against corruption as well as importation of dangerous drugs that have ruined many Nigerian youths.
Besides, the League said such disclosure will put paid to speculations going round in the ports industry that the claim by the Customs that an importer offered the money displayed during the press briefing in Apapa was in doubt.
Speculations have been that the so-called bribe money was simply a make-up or contributions of some customs officers in the port system for image redemption purposes.
In a statement signed by the President, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke and the Secretary General, Mr. Francis Ugwoke, the League argued that the only way the Customs management would convince Nigerians that an importer was actually the one who offered the money in cash is to unveil his identity.
The statement reads:, “We see no reason why the identity of the importer should be kept secret. It should be made public as a deterrent to others wishing to do the same thing in future.
By exposing the culprits, such action will further check importation of such dangerous goods into the country as the importer knows the implication.
“It is pertinent to request the Customs management to institute an independent inquiry into the issue of corruption in the ports and border posts involving resident customs officers in which the nation has continued to suffer billions of Naira revenue loss that go to private pockets.
“We also would like the CG to find out why some officers who were arrested over their indictment in the seized tramadol have been threatening to expose others involved in the scam if not treated well.
“We want the Customs management to ensure that nothing happens to these officers as they could be target with their threat to expose wrong doings in the system”.
Recall that the Customs had recently seized 40 containers of tramadol drugs with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N7,318,978,065.00.
The CG revealed that three suspects, among them customs officers and two others that cleared the products were arrested in connection with the seizures. Ali disclosed that the importers of the items had offered a whooping sum of N150million just for one container to be released to them, an offer he said was rejected.
Incidentally, the Customs management has kept secret the identity of the importer or importers involved in the importation of the goods into the country.
Meanwhile, the 20th Anniversary Lecture, Awards and inauguration of Patrons and Executives of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers(LOMEP) earlier scheduled to hold on Thursday, 29 November,2018 has been shifted to Thursday, 24th January, 2019.
The event billed to take place at Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos, will feature the recognition of deserving maritime industry leaders and reform agents as patrons and awardees.
While the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who is the Chief Guest of Honour, is billed to give the keynote address, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer(CEO)of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello, who is the Guest Speaker, will deliver the lecture on the topic:
“Indigenous Fleet Development, What Options?”
Some of the agencies and firm to be recognized under the corporate award category include: Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which got an award for “ Transparency and Infrastructural Development in Nigerian Ports”; Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) , an award for “ Port Economic Regulations in Nigeria”; Sifax Group, an award as “ Outstanding Indigenous Terminal Operator in Nigeria”.
The founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, was nominated for award under the individual award category for “ Promotion of Capacity Building in Freight Forwarding Industry in Nigeria”
Also listed in the individual award category is former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, who is being recognized for “ Innovation in Customs Brokerage in Nigeria”.
Among the special guests of honour are: Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Governing Council Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN), Col. Tsanni Abubakar (rtd)