Maritime lawyer lauds Senate passage of Customs Act

Emeka Akabogu

A maritime lawyer and Principal Partner, Akabogu and Associates, Emeka Akabogu has lauded the Senate for passing the Nigeria Customs Management Act Bill, which provides that the appointment of the Comptroller-General of Customs will now be subjected to Senate confirmation.

The bill was said to be aimed at ensuring that the best candidate occupies the position of the Customs Comptroller-General.

Speaking in an interview on Ships & Ports radio programme on Radio one 103.5 FM (Radio Nigeria) Lagos, Akabogu said the passage of the bill was a good development.

He however noted that the Senate’s withdrawal of the powers of the President to solely appoint the Customs Comptroller-General may not be unconnected with the rift between the Customs boss, Hameed Ali and the lawmakers.

“The provision to subject the appointment of the CG to the confirmation of the Senate seems to be a direct fallout of the event of the last few months involving the Senate and the Comptroller-General but none the less, I think it is a good development because ultimately, the Customs Service is one of the most important organs of the government and also central to the running of the economy.

“To that extent, it is important that the appointment into its rank is undertaken with a high sense of responsibility and everybody will attest to the fact that an appointment process which takes account of competence and which avoid arbitrariness, is in the better interest of Nigeria,” he said. 

Akabogu said though confirmation by the lawmakers have been primarily out of political consideration, the clause which now requires that the Senate confirms an appointment by the President would be of positive impact to the economy.

“One of the things which needs to be avoided which we always have to face as a matter of practice is that politics seems to overtake reason and compromise the intentions which are there originally. So we want to ensure a situation where even the Senate in the process of confirmation is guided solely by the best interest of Nigeria. We want a situation where someone who is appointed into Customs is competent in the procedure and practice of the Customs Service.

“We are still going to do a considered review of the new bill because we are not yet familiar with its position but the clause providing for appointment upon confirmation by the Senate is good and also what needs to be most prominent in the minds of Nigeria and the Customs Service particularly is competency of personnel, their being updated with the most relevant and up to date information relating to day to day operations which they undertake and ultimately, the provision of infrastructure which will support the service in undertaking its responsibility.

“We want to avoid situations where items which have not been properly audited or scanned come into the country simply because the customs service does not have a capacity to undertake the kind of inspection which they ought to undertake. These are infrastructure deficit which arise usually out of governance issue within the Customs as an entity,” he said.

 

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