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Asu Beks: FG should declare State of Emergency at Ports, appoint Serving Career Officer as Customs CG

           …Says Ali has performed abysmally

The Federal Government was Wednesday urged to declare a state of emergency at
the nation’s ports and border posts over the influx of arms and other
prohibited goods into the country.

A frontline journalist and Publisher of Shipping World Magazine, Mr. Asu Beks
who made the call also urged the relevant authorities to subject all imports to
100 per cent physical examination at our ports and all entry points including
airports and land borders.

Beks also expressed concerns that most of the seized items by the Nigeria
Customs Service (NCS) have remained in the Government Warehouses wasting away
instead of being auctioned as required by the law.
He also passed a vote of no confidence on the Comptroller General of the NCS,
Rtd Col Hammed Ali for performing abysmally.
Beks said it was time for President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint a professional
to take over from Ali as Comptroller General OF Customs.

Part of Beks’ statement reads:
“I have invited you today to share some thoughts with you at the
alarming state of insecurity at our ports and border posts and how as
responsible citizens we could partner with the relevant authorities to secure
our great country. 
“You may recall that over 12 years ago that when the debate
on the pros and cons on the planned concessioning of Ports Terminals was being
muted, Labour and the maritime media then called for caution. 
“These seeming
fears were predicated on the fact that the incoming Terminal Operators may
compromise on our national security. Today, those fears have been largely
confirmed as arms and ammunition and the influx of illicit drugs into the
country have climbed to an unprecedented level. Last year alone, no fewer than
2700 pump action rifles were impounded by customs authorities in Lagos alone.
“Interestingly most of the imports came from Turkey and yet no diplomatic
efforts were made to dissuade the Turkish government from engaging in such unwholesome
practices. In the last four weeks ,no fewer than 59 containers laden with
tramadol and other forms of hard drugs were seized at Apapa, Tin Can and
“Even though we commend the officers who made these landmark seizures ,we
are nonetheless worried at the quantum of the same imports which may have
missed the eagle eyes of Customs officials. We are also worried that the
identity of these importers are still shrouded in Secrecy. 
“My painstaking
investigations have revealed that Customs Officials are working under the most
severe and harsh conditions with barely enough tools with little or no
motivation from the Customs authorities in Abuja. 
“With no scanners at the ports
and border posts coupled with obsolete guns, it would seem that smugglers and other
forms of economic saboteurs are having a field day. 
“Our borders have become
even more porous than ever before in our recent history as arms and ammunition
and illegal immigrants move freely across borders unchallenged. 
“On several
occasions, Customs officers at border posts have been gunned down by dare devil
smugglers and armed insurgents with little or no resistance. Other security
agents have done little or nothing to complement Customs and Immigration
officials who are usually at the mercy of cross border criminals.
“ The situation we have on ground might compromise our entire
national security if something urgent is not done .We hereby call on President
Muhammadu Buhari to declare a State of EMERGENCY at our Ports and Border Posts
to draw attention of all relevant agencies on need stop this army of invaders
“Consequently, we hereby urge relevant authorities to subject all imports to
100 per cent physical examination at our ports and all entry points including
airports and land borders. This is a very difficult pill we have to swallow as
a people but no serious country would sit and watch as armed cross border
bandits and enemies of a free world attempt to challenge our sovereignty as a nation.
“Most of the government warehouses in major customs commands are
unable to cope with the influx of impounded items .Goods, mostly cars running
into billions of naira have been allowed to rot away. 
“This is due to Hameed
Ali’s refusal to comply with extant laws on the disposal of such goods. He had
ignored the role of government appointed auctioneers as well as the powers of
Customs Area Controllers which vested on them the powers of disposal as
prescribed in the Customs and Excise Management Act(CEMA).
“We must accept as a nation that it was wrong in the first place
to appoint a politician rather than a career officer to run such a highly
technical and professional body as the Nigeria Customs Service. More than three
years on, Hameed Ali has performed abysmally. 
“He has failed to promote
professionalism and discipline in the service leaving most officers to seek
self help Officers sent on official assignments or those on transfer are denied
their allowances and other entitlements. 
“Corruption has reached an
unprecedented height as promotion and juicy postings are usually on
recommendations from prominent emirs. I want to use this opportunity to call on
President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately appoint a serving career officer to
head the Nigeria Customs Service as Hameed Ali lacks the cognate professional
experience and competence to lead the Service.
 This will surely restore the lost
glory of the service and instil accountability, professionalism and boost
morale of officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service.”

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