The Vice-President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. Kayode Farinto, has cautioned against the rumoured planned concession of scanning machines at the port to foreigners.
Speaking to journalists on Monday in Lagos, Farinto condemned 100 per cent cargo examination which he said, allowed under declaration of cargoes and importation of contraband into the country.
Stating that since President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the procurement of the scanning machines, there are insinuations that foreigners are lobbying for the contract to operate the scanning machines.
The ANLCA Vice urged the Federal Government to look at the issue critically on the grounds of security, morality and economy of the nation.
On security, the ANLCA chieftain believed it will be too dangerous to leave manning of scanning machines in the hands of foreigners.
He said: "I remember some years back when some arms and ammunition were discovered in Nigeria. It was narrowed down to some foreigners, if you allow foreigners to man our machines, the security implications of it will not be too good for Nigeria as a country."
He however said some Customs officers had been trained in the area of operating scanning machines, urging Federal Government to allow the Customs personnel to handle the issues of operation of the scanning machines because they were the ones trained to read image analysis.
According to him "Customs officers have been trained to man scanning operations to be able to know or discover if there is discrepancy during cargo clearance.
"We should be patriotic not to allow foreigners to take the machines over because some people want to collect a percentage from foreigners and they will now say give it to foreigners. It is not too good.
"However, it can be done in this way, allow Customs officers to operate the scanning machines but when it comes to technical maintenance that is if we do not have indigenous Engineers who can service the machines, you can now bring in experts abroad.
"But Nigeria has risen to the level where I know that we can produce indigenous engineers who can maintain our scanning machines."
He therefore, urged the Federal Government not to fall into the hands of those people such as politicians who he claimed are clamouring that the issue of scanning machines should be given to foreigners.
"Giving it to foreigners will not do us any good in terms of security. In terms of economy implications, you will agree with me when pre-arrival assessment report was introduced, I remember then that the ex -Customs CG was compensated. A percentage of money was to be given back to Customs annually in whatever they generate.
"Now if you're bringing in these scanning machines, I also know that one per cent is supposed to be given back to Nigeria Customs Service. When you are now bringing in experts from abroad, definitely, the one per cent goes to them.
"Don't forget these people will want to repatriate the money to their countries, which does not do our economy any good not even now that we have COVID-19.
"But if you're giving it to Customs, they can employ and do what we called moral boosting by either increasing the salary of the officers. That is, the scanning machine should not be given to the foreigners because we will be shooting ourselves on the foot if we do that.". he said.