750 CARTONS OF ASSORTED POULTRY PRODUCTS SIEZED AT SEME COMMAND

The Seme Border command, of the Nigeria Custom Service recorded a total seizure of about 750 cartons of assorted poultry products with duty paid value of approximately tree million naira within the first week of July. 

The extra alert officers and men of the operations unit of the command, who aborted attempts by smugglers to bring into Nigeria the contraband item, made the interception and subsequent seizure of the poultry products. 

In an operation led by Superintendent of Customs Mamu, all illegal routes around the border area were combed to fish out the smuggled items. 

These seizure, some abandoned, were as a result of effective and sustained patrols of the entire area. 

The frozen poultry were destroyed in the presence of other relevant agencies in accordance with the law.

CUSTOMS STORMS ILLEGAL WAREHOUSE

Following intelligence reports, the Customs Area Controller of the Command, Rasheed Taiwo led a team of crack officers to Ilashe village to identify the buildings. Officers subsequently swooped on the illegal warehouse, while armed operatives took strategic positions in the village to forestall any incident. The villagers reputed for their open hostilities towards Customs operatives watched in disbelief as over 300 bags of 50 kg rice and sugar were emptied from the houses into customs trucks and patrol vans.

SPECIAL REPORT ON WELFARE PROJECTS

The problems associated with provision of adequate welfare facilities for officers and men have been a recurring issue in Nigeria Customs Service. In recent past, complaints from the rank and file has bothered on the inadequacy of befitting office and residential accommodation. Though this problem was noticeable in all Customs commands, nationwide, it is more acute in the border areas. 

In addition to this, absence of an insurance scheme, comprehensive in nature and scope and commensurate with the grave dangers Customs Operatives are exposed to in the course of their duties have been a source of worry to officers and their dependents. Limited access to basic medical facilities, absence of recreational facilities and non-competitive take home pay are some of the other indices of a poor welfare package for officers. 

Conscious of the overall effect of this situation on staff morale and productivity; management of the Nigeria Customs Service had decided to embark on a series of projects and schemes aimed at boosting staff welfare. Though most of the details are currently being finalized, the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Corporate Service and Economic Relations, Abubakar Malam, used the occasion of commissioning of one of the projects last week to unfold a broad outline of Customs Management’s welfare programmes. He explains the objective of Customs management’s welfare policies. 

These include: 

Officers who suffer permanent incapacitation or the families of those who die on active service are now entitled to an amount three times their annual basic salary; 

Early retirees, that is, officers who withdraw their services before putting 10 years of service are entitled to 50% of their basic annual salary; while those who spend 10 years and above are entitled to 100%; 

Family of all categories of officers is entitled to ₦80, 000 burial expenses; 

Each Junior Officers is entitled to an annual medical /accident benefits of ₦50,000 while Senior Officers are entitled to ₦100,000. 

Customs Management is also making steady progress in the area of Barracks accommodation. Last Week, a new 23 Unit one bedroom flat was commissioned in Abeokuta for the immediate use of officers and men of the Ogun Command, by the Comptroller-General of Customs. During an inspection of the facility, Comptroller Rasheed Taiwo urged Customs management to provide additional funding for provision of infrastructures like erosion control and electrification of the barracks. 

Other Barracks projects completed and waiting commissioning are:  

The 20 units one-bedroom apartments at Customs barracks, Airport Road, Abuja, 

46 units one-bedroom apartments flats at mile 4 and Ebubu barracks, Port Harcourt Rivers State, and  23 units one-bedroom flats in Kano. 

Similar projects are nearing completion at Banki Border Station, Borno State. Ilela in Sokoto State and Warri, Delta State. The Customs Training Colleges in Lagos and Kano are also to benefit from the projects as construction works for Auditorium and 63 room Hostels are in advanced stages of completion 

To compliment these efforts, other schemes aimed at individual officers are being fine tuned to add value to the welfare programmes. These include the new Customs Cooperative and Thrift Society, established by the management, provision of motorcycle loans, and access to Housing loan up to the tune of ₦5 million through the instruments of the National Housing Fund (NHF). 

In addition to the establishment of a full-fledged Customs Medical Unit which administers over 12 clinics nationwide, officers are now entitled to refunds of medical expense, while sponsorship for overseas treatment could also be granted when situation demands. 

Existing Customs Nursery and Primary Schools in Idiroko, Kano and Kaduna are now to be fully acquired by the Service, while new ones will be established in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. 

The comptroller-General however stressed that provisions of these facilities and scheme are closely linked to the policy on posting, whose thrust is to move officers around whenever the situation demands it.

PH SEIZURE

The Port Harcourt Area 1 Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has seized twenty-six packages of foreign Textiles imported into the country through the Port-Harcourt International Airport. 

The seized items consisting a total of 3,681 pieces of shirts, skirts, and blouses valued at over ₦4 million were on board a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany. 

The Command’s Comptroller Abiodun Adeogun said that the command would conduct investigations into the illegal importation.

MORE NEWS ON NPA PRIVATISATION

As the current debate on the privatization of the Nations Seaports rages on, the role of the Nigeria Customs Service in the regime has come under focus Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs Excise and Industrial Incentives, Mrs. Faith Umoh addressed the issue in paper she delivered at a workshop organized by the Bureau of Public Enterprise in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The workshop was attended by some principal officers of the Port Harcourt Area I command including the area comptroller, Mr. Abiodun Adeogun, and comptroller Federal Operations Unit Zone C, Onaolapo Onadepo.

OUTSTANDING SALARIES FOR THE MONTH OF MAY AND JUNE 2005 TO BE PAID FROM THIS WEEK

Outstanding salaries for the month of May and June 2005 for Officers and Men of the Nigeria Customs Service will be paid from this week. 

The Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of Corporate Service and Economic Relations, Abubakar Malam disclosed this at the lunching of some welfare projects at the Idiroko Border Station. He informed a delighted audience including officers and men of the command, as well as their relations that the Service has secured a special facility from the Federal Government to pay the outstanding salaries. 

Payments for the salaries were stalled following Federal Government’s approval for a new funding scheme for the Service, known as the cost of collection method. 

A vacuum was however created when previous monthly allocations to the Service were stopped before the release of warrants for the new funding system.

KATSINA SEIZURE

In another development, the Katsina Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has seized eleven Jumbo Bales of second hand clothings and other textile materials. Comptroller of the command, Garba Makarfi stated that the items consisted mainly of children wears being smuggled through the Nigerien border. The seized items are valued at over ₦10, million. 

In a related developmnet, a patrol team from the Kwara Area Command intercepted and seized a truck loaded with bails of textile materials along the one of the border stations. 

The seizure according to the patrol loader was made possible as a result of intelligence information.

JOINT BORDER PATROL

The sub-committee set up to compile the logistic requirements for an effective Joint Police Customs Immigration border patrols, has been traversing the remote operational bases and stations of the three services to assess the state of facilities and take inventory of operational requirements. 

The sub-committee headed by ACG Ade Fadahunsi of the Nigeria Customs Service, with other members drawn from the participating agencies had rounded up its visit to border stations in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano and Katsina State i.e. the facilities inspected in Mubi include the Sahuda Customs Station in Mubi, the Immigration Control Post, Sahuda and the Nigeria Police Station Sahuda. The buildings, generating sets water wells and vehicles were found to be in critical state of disrepair and sometimes in disused state. 

Other border areas visited were customs; immigrations and police facilities in Banki, Gamboru and the Borno State headquarter buildings of the various services commands. 

A significant observation of the subcommittee is the residence at which the various service operatives carry on their statutory functions despite the difficulties of poor infrastructure, collapsing operational facilities and vagaries of the climate. 

The subcommittee was mandated by the three agencies to assess the state of infrastructural facilities on ground, operational tools, office and residential accommodation, and make appropriate recommendations to the Minister of internal affairs who is the co-coordinator of the Joint Border Patrol.

BONDED WAREHOUSES OPERATIONS SUSPENDED

The operations of not less than 3 bonded terminals in Lagos were suspended within this year by the management of the Nigeria Customs Service for aiding and abetting the diversion of containers and fraud in the clearance of such containers.

The Deputy Controller General of Customs, Kayode Ogundeji who addressed journalists in Lagos on the special operation at the Apapa Port, said operators of the affected warehouse were sanctioned with huge penalties before their was set up were reopened.

He said that the special committee with a view to identifying these that are not legitimately at the port is carrying out a staff audit of all Customs operators at the various terminals cut of Apapa Port.

At a question and answer session, some of the stakeholders expressed their concerns about the exercise but however gave support to the special operation.

It will be recalled that following the increasing the wave of seizure of prohibited goods released from Apapa Ports and the desperate attempts by some unscrupulous importers to remove large number of containers of contraband from the port, Customs Headquarters directed a special operation to restore sanity in the port and ensure strict implementation of government fiscal policies.

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