To seek support and relay a message of its legitimate existence, a delegation of the Importers’ Association of Nigeria (IMAN) National Taskforce on Illegal Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons on Tuesday paid a courtesy visit to the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
In his speech, Director of the IMAN National Task Force, Lagos State Command, Colonel Friday Imoke (rtd), who led the delegation to the NAGAFF Headquarters, Freight Forwarders Village, Apapa, Lagos, said that the essence of the visit was to seek the continuous cooperation of NAGAFF and to convey the message that the task force through its persistence has surmounted the obstacles it encountered in identifying with government security agencies, especially the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which, according to him, questioned the task force’s relevance.
“The support, collaboration and involvement of all genuine stakeholders is a condition precedent to winning the war against illegal importation of arms. It was on this ground and framework that the Federal Government accepted the initiative of the IMAN to set up a special task force to combat illegal importation of arms, ammunition and light weapons. Mandate was also given to other heads of security agencies to provide us with protection in the course of our assignments,” Imoke stated.
He said that the task force has “come to stay” and is determined to achieve its mandate to “absolve the Importers Association of Nigeria of any culpability for the influx of arms to Nigeria” by checkmating IMAN members involved in illegal business.
He explained that the task force has commenced operations in Lagos State, “covering four terminals, Seme border, bonded warehouses and porous area hideouts where goods are trans-loaded into other states.”
Speaking, the NAGAFF National President, Chief Eugene Nweke, assured the task force of NAGAFF’s support, which, according to him, it will maintain by providing the task force with the information NAGAFF deems necessary to combat the menace of the smuggling of illegal arms and ammunition into the country.
Also speaking, the Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, while disputing Imoke’s assertions that the NCS posed an obstacle to the task force, noted that “if there is anything that anybody can do to support the ongoing reorganisation and reforms going on with the government, there is no doubt that the Customs will engage you responsibly.”
Aniebonam advised the task force to “raise the bar and bridge the communication gap between it and the Nigeria Customs Service,” by extending a semblance of its visit to NAGAFF to the Customs Management and, by so doing, explaining the objectives of the taskforce to the Customs Management, especially that of sanitising the importers themselves.
He also enjoined the task force to extend the same hand of fellowship to other freight forwarding associations, but warned it not to be too expectant of the support of all the stakeholders as, according to him, not “everybody will fall in line”.
Aniebonam assured the task force of NAGAFF’s staunch support, noting that the task force’s efforts is in “the right direction to sensitise, educate and inform critical stakeholders as to its relevance in the issue of national quest particularly as it borders on security to the lives and property of the Nigerian people.”
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