The interception of 661 pieces of pump-action rifles by the operatives of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) A, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is one out of the many contrabands -arms, ammunition, substandard products, fake drugs -that are exiting Nigerian seaports and land borders on daily basis due to obsolete and non-functional scanning machines at Nigerian entry points.
The truck-load of pump-action rifles was imported from China. According to Col Hameed Ali, (retired), controller-general of customs, CGC, the contraband which was routed through Turkey enroute Nigeria contained 49 boxes with a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles.
According to him, “On Sunday 22nd January 2017, the roving team of the NCS Federal Operations Unit while on information patrol intercepted a Mack truck with registration number BDG 265 XG conveying a 1x40ft container with number: PONU/825914/3 along Mile 2 Apapa Road.
“The truck was immediately taken to the premises of FOU A, Ikeja where physical examination revealed 49 boxes containing a total number of 661 pieces of pump action rifles, concealed with steel doors and other merchandise goods.”
But, investigations by our correspondent show that the incident was not the first time the FOU A, Ikeja had to intercept contraband goods that have been duly cleared by customs at Lagos seaports.
Last year, men of the Nigerian Customs raided a warehouse in Lagos where imported furniture which is on import prohibition list was warehoused after making its way through the Lagos seaport into the country.
Apart from corruption which drive the actions of the men and officers of the Nigerian Customs, contraband consignments are able to slip through Nigerian ports, undetected because of the non-availability of scanning machines that would have dictated what was imported in the country.
Investigation revealed that the only one scanner working at Apapa Port work for few hours and it is allowed hours on end recover before it is put back to work. Lack of functioning scanners had made Nigerian ports very stressful and insecure places to do business. Maritime experts who are alarmed by the state of scanners at Nigerian ports say they have frequently caused delays in goods clearance as well as escape of contraband goods into the society.
Stakeholders say one scanner is grossly insufficient to handle the number of cargoes being discharged at the Apapa Port and worse is that Tin Can Port has none.
According to maritime experts, busy ports like Apapa and Tin Can, need four functional scanners each in other to handle containers coming to the ports. LEADERSHIP Sunday can authoritatively confirm that the busiest ports in Nigeria – Tin Can, Apapa ports – have a total of three totally broken down scanners, with one dysfunctional one at Apapa Port, which works below 40 per cent capacity.
Our correspondent observes that due to the non-functional and inadequate scanners at Apapa and Tin Can,100 per cent examination are done manually on containers by customs officers, which stifles business and trade and increase chances.
Source: Leadership Nigeria