The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has given reason the unit arrests and detains containers that are currently at its office in Ikeja.
Speaking with Shipping Position Daily last week, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of FOU zone A, Jerome Attah explained that the unit is an anti-smuggling arm of the service that is empowered to arrest containers if it has sufficient information of infraction.
Attah also said that when some of the consignments are arrested, its operatives will re-examine them and where there are differences in duty payable, the unit will raise Debit Notes (DN).
“FOU zone ‘A’ is not a clearing house; we are strictly anti-smuggling arm of the service, where we have any sufficient information about any container and we noticed that there is an infraction, we will bring them to our office, that is why we are here. And you should also know that we guard the six states in the south west zones at times some of them do find their ways here because we have to get information from them and this information come based on intelligent report”
He added that, “when the containers come, we take them to our warehouse and re-examine them and where there are differences we raise Debit Notes (DN). If you look at the last report that I sent, we made over N1billon from DN so these are the monies we make from those containers”.
On the large number of containers that over spilled from the warehouse to the road adjacent to its office, the spokesperson said, “you can monitor the ones you see to know if they are still the ones there for weeks, if the owner clears the infractions, he or she can even take the container that same day depending on if the owner has also paid the DN raised, where there are DN. And where there are clear infractions of wrong classifications or declarations, the container will be seized and it will be there in our warehouse” he explained.
But reacting to this, a chieftain of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr. Ugochukwu Nnadi fingered corruption as the reason there are so many container laden trucks arrested by officers of the Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Nnadi told our correspondent that there are so many policies of the NCS which were instituted based on corruption, even as he added that they have different units of task force doing the same job.
“It is not the issue of what is happening at Federal Operations Unit (FOU), the issue is what is happening at Customs. There are so many policies in customs today; the reason for these policies is corruption, they have different types of task force doing the same thing. While all these things are there is because of corruption, the task force and the federal operation are doing the same thing”
Explaining further, Nnadi challenged the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (Rtd) to invite the officers releasing these cargoes that often end up at FOU A as seizures for questioning.
He alleged that any good seized by the unit gets there because the owner or the importers fail to bring some money, stressing that those cargoes end up at FOU because of corruption.
“Those cargoes seized at the federal operations were released by competent officers at various terminals. And none of those releasing officers have been invited to say why they released such consignments. I am telling you that any goods that get to FOU is there because you refuse to give them the amount of money that they demand from you”, he alleged.
“Check out many spot where you have the federal operation unit, you will have a POS operator there; it is either you give them cash or you pay through POS. So those things are there because of corruption and as I am speaking to you now, CGC is handicapped; he doesn’t know what to do to steer the affairs of the customs and the officers around him wants him to fail so that he will be removed and they will continue. And they know how to manage the corruption, so that it will go round and nobody will suffer, but the way it is now the CGC cannot manage it everybody is feeling it”, he stated