Some maritime industry stakeholders have commended the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, over the recent dismissal from Service of officers involved in various acts of misconduct even as they call for investigation of more officers.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has so far dismissed a total of 46 junior and senior officers for various offences. 29 of those dismissed were senior officers, while 17 were in the junior cadre.
Customs spokesman, Wale Adeniyi said at the weekend that officers affected in the exercise were investigated for involvement in improper examination and release of containers without proper documentation and payment of duties, illegal release of goods in advance before the arrival of vessels, collection of bribe to release prohibited items, release of export prohibitions, fraudulent sale of seized items, use of fake certificates and bribery to secure auctioned goods.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY weekend exclusively obtained the list of the affected officers. The affected officers in the rank of Deputy Controllers are Mustapha MT; Idris A.Z and Johnson D.H. while Mayaki S.O.D was exonerated.
Officers in the rank of Assistant Controllers category are: Ohamobi C; Daze P.D; Mahdi A.Z , Mbanefo P.C and Halilu A. R who was exonerated.
Chief Superintendent of Customs are: Sale A.S; Nura Muazu Usman; Bello. A; Abdulahi R.; Ekong N.A; Dan Ali.M; Sulaiman A.A and Andrew A.A.
Officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Customs (DSC) include Olajumoke .O while Sambo A.U received warning.
Superintendent of Customs Dahiru .A; Imam S.U; Abdulahi M.S; Onwuka A.D (warning) and Kalama .B. Others are Chief Inspector of Customs Sani B; Balarabe ,S; Isah, A; Bello, A.M; Sale, H and Daguri, Z.I
Principal Inspector of Customs Orukalama T; Haruna,K; Hamidu,H; Hamisu S.G; Alfa, Y.D; Garba H.and Theophilus,S.M (exonerated) among others.
The stakeholders who spoke at separate interviews with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY said the number of those expelled is still a far cry from expectations given the high level of corruption among officers at the ports.
National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu said the number of those dismissed is just a tip of the iceberg but shows that something is being done by the Customs boss to address the issue of corruption in Customs operations.
He said the action would serve as deterrent to other officers who still use their positions to enrich themselves.
“More should come. It will serve as deterrent because people were doing corruption with impunity and it means that the CGC can bite and we expect more of that.
“If they release contraband at the port, an officer is involved and they are not doing anything to the officer, he will go back and do more. The house cleaning should continue.
“People are using their discretional powers to extort money from agents. All the infractions going on in the ports today will not happen without connivance of officers. An officer will release contraband, it will be seized by the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) and the agent’s license will be blocked so that he doesn’t do business again, but the officer goes back to go and do the next business,” Shittu said.
He however noted that in order to dissuade officers from corrupt practices, the Customs management should set up reconciliation desk where agents who feel they have been given high value by officers in an attempt to extort them can take their case to.
“The Comptroller-General should set up a committee for resolution of dispute be set up at the Zonal level comprising of FIRS, Customs but not those sitting at the port, agents and if possible ICPC or police so that anybody who has issues can go there and whatever is the final arbitration should be final, subject to post audit verification. With that everybody will wake up.
“We don’t have confidence in the CACs (Customs Area Controllers) again in solving problem because most of them are not in charge at all. So many issue that they are supposed to rule on a finality, they tussle you here and there and send you back to those who want to extort you,” he said.
On his part, Chairman, Anti Corruption Committee, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Increase Uche, described the sack of the officers as a good development.
“It is the part of the mandate given to the CG to come and sanitize the system. Unfortunately, all this while we have been expecting the Customs management to take action. What we are seeing now is part of the expected change.
“We are totally in support of how corruption is being fought not only in Customs but the country as a whole. Anybody who will be a clog in the wheel of progress should be shown the way out.
“How can a person who swears an oath to defend the nation later turn back again to shortchange the system after collecting salary?
“We commend the CG for the action he has taken and we want to see more action in other agencies too.
“Corrupt officers in NAFDAC, SON and others should be fished out and fired. Any agency that has given the promise that they are going to sanitize its area, we want to see action,” he said.
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