The multimillion dollars mobile and fixed scanners installed at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa by Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, a former service provider to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) was poorly managed by another company called Global Scan owned by one Emeka Offor.
Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command, Mohammed Abba-Kura, who disclosed this in Lagos on Wednesday, told the House Committee on Customs and Excise that Cotecna was displaced from the Apapa port due for political reasons and replaced with Emeka Offor’s Global Scan, which did not have the competency to manage the Smiths Hiemann 2533 HCV scanning machines.
He said, “The issue of politics was brought into the scanning. Even the contract with the service providers, for so many years, Nigeria Customs Service was not part of it. If you want to do a project, you must bring stakeholders to be part of that project, because once they are part of it, it will be a success story and a win-win situation.
“These contracts are normally signed and brought down the throat of the Customs to implement. Before destination inspection, from 1978 when we were doing pre-shipment, we were never part of it. The contract will either be signed from the mother Ministry or somewhere in the executive.
“In fact, the service fought seriously to even collect some of the aspects these service providers were handling such as taking over the scanning machines. Even in the agreement, the service providers need to train Customs officers on all aspects.
“Cotecna is one of the service providers that did very well. They were the ones that installed the fixed scanners and mobile scanners in both Tin Can and Apapa ports and they did very well managing them and a lot of officers were trained. Many of us benefited from that training.
“But for political reasons, sometimes in 2015, the one in Apapa was taken away from Cotecna and given to a Nigerian, Global Scan owned by Emeka Offor. He does not have the capacity to manage it. Even the CRI (clean report of inspection) he was issuing at that time was the worst CRI we worked with.
“Some of us were privileged to be taken abroad to visit some other ports. But the fixed scanners we have here were more advanced than the ones we have in the Port of Doha. If we are not going to call a spade a spade, well just be running a service show.
“From what we have, you are able to scan the container very well and see what is inside it. But if the service does not have the money to procure the scanners, what do we do. A lot of bureaucracy comes into accessing these funds even when they are budgeted. You have to go to so many places to achieve what you want.
“We have some of the best officers trained in the use of these scanners. Some of us sent over one and a half years attending those training.
“So if the scanners are functioning, we will reduce man-hour sent on examination, we will generate more revenue and we will discover so many things that are prohibited. But there is nothing that we can do right now because there are laws that must be followed.
“If money is budgeted and not released, you should be able to know why the money was not released and whoever is responsible should be sanctioned so that others should sit up and do things properly.”
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