CHARLES TAYLOR: Ex-customs officer challenges dismissal

A former Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) officer, Sunday Umoh, who claimed to have prevented former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, from escaping from Nigeria into Cameroun in 2006, has instituted a suit to challenge his dismissal from service.
Umoh, in the suit filed before the National Industrial Court, Lagos, stated that he refused to accept $460,000 bribe from Taylor when he was trying to escape through the Gamboru Ngala border into Cameroun.He also said an honour for his “patriotic action” scheduled to be conferred on him during the Comptroller General Conference in November 2006 was suddenly cancelled.
Umoh said he was denied access to work after the honour was cancelled until he was later dismissed by the NCS in 2010 through a letter dated September 2, 2010.He filed the suit against the NCS on December 21, 2012.He had put almost 23 years into service when he was dismissed.

Taylor was arrested by Umoh and other border guards at the Gamboru Ngala border in Borno State on March 29, 2006.This came some days after the Nigerian government indicated its intention to hand over Taylor, who was then on exile in Nigeria, to the Liberian government to face trial for war crimes.
Through the suit filed on his behalf by Mr. Adedotun Isola-Osobu of Falana & Falana Chamber, Umoh is seeking an order “reinstating him to his duty post” and for the payment of his “arrears till judgment is delivered”.
Meanwhile, the NCS had through its counsel, Lawunmi Halilu, has filed a preliminary objection to the suit, claiming that what led to Umoh’s dismissal arose from an undisclosed issue of August 4, 2005.It stated that the suit was “statute-barred” since the claimant failed to file it within three months after the cause of action which led to the suit” was re-affirmed in September 2010”.It urged the court to dismiss the suit because it was “statute-barred by virtue of the provisions of section 2(a) of the Public Officers Protection Act LFN Cap 379 of 2004”. Again, RiMIDAN laments massive rice smuggling into the country

The Rice Millers, Importers, Distributors Association of Nigeria (RiMIDAN), has again cried out over the massive smuggling activities that threaten to wipe off the modest efforts of stakeholders in the subsector. RiMIDAN’s Secretary General, Shaibu Mohammed, in a statement said that unless the Federal Government intervenes quickly, all the rice consumed in the country in the next few months would be smuggled from across the border with the attendant dire consequences to the economy.
RiMIDAN, which boasts a membership of most of the major farmers, millers and genuine importers are worried over a dire situation that has already put many of their members out of business, put their backward integration efforts in jeopardy and cost government huge revenue loss.
According to Mohammed, government jerked up the rice levy paid by importers thus bringing total tariff to 110 per cent whereas duty paid on rice in the neighbouring countries is merely 30 per cent. “The result is that smugglers are having a field day smuggling rice through Benin Republic into Nigeria,” Mohammed said even as he challenged the federal government to run a check on the quantity of rice that has come into Nigeria so far this year through its seaports compared to previous years.”They should also find out from the records of the customs, how much duty has accrued from rice imports through the ports this year,” he said. He claimed that Nigeria has lost about $1 billion this year alone in duties as a result of massive smuggling.

“But the bigger worry is that the genuine businessmen who import through the Nigerian ports are in danger of being ruined unless they join the bandwagon of smuggling, which ironically is very lucrative. And there is another danger of the new rice farms cultivated by many of RiMIDAN members being wasted as the cost of paddy rice (unmilled rice) is far more than the smuggled one. If this trend of smuggling continues, most of the farmers may have to abandon their farms because it will not make sense to continue,” he said. Muhammed appealed to the federal government to assist the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to check smuggling, as well as partner with key rice stakeholders like RiMIDAN to achieve the objective developing the Nigerian rice sector and ending importation of the staple food.



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