SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had Wednesday exclusively reported that no fewer than 264 officers of the Command had been redeployed to various other formations across the country.
The mass redeployment exercise, which cut across officers down the ladder from the rank of Deputy Comptrollers to Customs Assistants, came on the heels of the recent pronouncement by Comptroller-General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi to reduce the number of officers operating at the Command.
And in an exclusive chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, Aniebonam said that, while it is at the prerogative of the Service to redeploy its officers whenever it deems fit, the recent redeployment exercise at the Tin-Can Island Port Area Command was not done equitably. Aniebonam noted that the exercise had lumped officers who had stayed several years and those who had not served a year at the Command. On the issue of Customs officers moonlighting as clearing agents, he said: “It has a lot of revenue implication. That is quite informal.
The authorisation has to be given if you look at Section 153 of the Customs law. Before you can do that the Board of Customs must have directed you and in that case they are not directed so it is an illegal duty they are doing.
If anybody is caught, definitely he will go in for that and I know that the CG has said also that what he needed is to get those names but for me, I say, that he doesn’t need us to give him the names. The Intelligence Unit of the Customs is there and that is what they are supposed to be doing.”
On cargo congestion at the ports, Aniebonam suggested, as a remedy, the immediate reroute of containers for physical Customs examination, noting that with the alleged inadequacy of the scanning units, it will be time wasting for containers to be queued for scanning. He said: “I think what is worrying agents as such is the issue of rerouting of cargo when you look at the risk management profile. Yes, the scanner may not be adequate then what stops the customs from moving those cargos to red especially when it is on demand. But I think the good thing now is that the Comptroller-General has taken appropriate measures to give direction.
In other words, the excesses at the scanning unit can now be rerouted but then you have to make a formal application to the Comptroller. At this point, you won’t be talking of efficiency because it’s on demand, a voluntary demand. Instead of going to the scanning unit and stay there for two weeks why don’t you reroute so that physical examination can be done.” He expressed confidence in the ability of the Customs to handle the task of physical examination of containers, no matter the quantity.
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