CLEANSING CONTINUES AS CUSTOMS SET UP TASK FORCE TO INVESTIGATE 50 OFFICERS CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION

A special provost unit has been set up by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to investigate over 50 officers indicted for corruption. It was learnt that there were over 50 cases involving officers concerning charges, valuation of vehicles and release of vehicles without procedures. The unit will also reposition the Customs investigative unit for greater efficiency. It was learnt that the officers may lose their jobs if found culpable.

According to Customs Public Relations Officer, Wale Adeniyi, a deputy comptroller, the Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, set up the special provost unit to complement what the investigation unit was doing.

He noted that a committee had been set up by NCS to reposition and restructure the investigation department. The spokesman explained that his intention was to ensure that investigations were done speedily in order to punish those found guilty as specified by the law prescribed for offences.

Adeniyi said it was most important to inculcate the fear of that unit in the minds of officers that there is a special unit that is watching them to ensure offences are dealt with decisively. He said that the provost unit would be a special investigative unit with powers similar to that of the police in addition to having enforcement and prosecution powers.

According to Ships and Ports report, there have been allegations by maritime stakeholders that corrupt cases involving some officers may have been swept under the carpet. The allegation came one year after the threat by the Comptroller General to prosecute those found to be corrupt. Meanwhile, NCS has said that Nigerians should diversify into export trade to boost the country’s economy.

Its Area Controller, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Command, Benjamin Aber, urged Nigerians to be serious with exportation of goods to replenish the country’s dwindling foreign reserves. He made the plea at a meeting on the Nigerian Export Trade Hub (NETH) hosted by the command. Aber explained that the country should be focused on exports in order to get out of the current economic recession He said that agriculture could sustain Nigeria if vigorously pursued. The controller added that agriculture could sustain the country if vigorously pursued.

Aber stressed: “Customs is now in the forefront that export business should be done in such a way that it earns foreign exchange for the country.” He assured that all federal regulatory agencies would be linked to the NETH, noting that doing business through the hub would be easy. NETH was launched on August 2016 by some government agencies and private sector stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), National Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA). It is aimed is to earn foreign exchange for the country and create a trade balance.

According to the Coordinator of the trade hub, Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Frank Ezeh, the platform had given investors the opportunity to bring in their goods and have easy access to exporting them out of the country. He added: “This is to also guide against the ban or blacklisting of Nigerian exports to Europe and the world over. With this, the country’s balance of trade will be improved upon.”

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