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Joint Task Force (JTF), Shell Deny Coercing Bayelsa Community on Spill Report

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Joint Task Force

The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta and oil major, Shell on Monday denied allegations of coercing the leadership of Aghoro 1 community in Bayelsa to sign a disputed report on oil spillage.

A disagreement in the areas impacted by an oil leak on the Trans Ramos Pipeline within Shell’s oilfield at Aghoro communities in Bayelsa has stalled the release of a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report of the oil spill.

Community leaders, who participated in the JIV to determine the cause of the spill reportedly refused to sign the report.

The refusal was attributed to wide disparity between the impacted areas claimed by Shell and the community.

Mr Victor Akamu, Chairman of the Community Development Committee of Aghoro 1, had alleged that Shell connived with the Joint Task Force, JTF to force and intimidation, to compel the community to sign the report.

Joint Task Force

Shell

Akamu told reporters on Monday in Yenagoa that Joint Task Force JTF summoned the community’s leadership to Yenagoa on Aug. 23 to force them to sign the JIV report but that the leaders refused to sign.

He said the team from Aghoro were labelled pipeline vandals and were profiled into the database of the Joint Task Force JTF.

We were taken to a room where detailed profiles of all of us were taken, including our finger prints, biometric details and our photographs.

We were temporarily held down for almost three hours profiling before we were eventually told to go.

I wanted to ask if it is part of JTF’s job to force a community to sign a JIV report.

Shell should stop using JTF to intimidate our community. For the past 20 years, there is no history of pipeline vandalism.

This leak was due to a ruptured pipeline, due to corrosion yet they call us vandals, it is unacceptable, Akamu said.

However, reacting to the allegation of intimidation, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager of Shell, denied use of force to compel the company’s host communities to sign the JIV report.

Yes, there are issues with the JIV report. The representative of Aghoro 1 community did not agree with a portion of the JIV report but we have not used force.

SPDC does not coerce parties to sign JIV reports, Odugbesan said.

Similarly, the Commander of the JTF, Rear Adm. Apochi Suleiman, dismissed the allegations of intimidation made by Aghoro community.

He said that the military waded into the crisis to encourage both parties to adopt dialogue to resolve their differences to avert breach of peace.

We conduct our duties in compliance with our rules of engagement. We invited the parties to mediate and encourage them to dialogue and use the established channels of resolving conflicts.

I told them to resolve their differences on the negotiating table so that the operation is not disrupted. Our mandate is to safeguard oil facilities and we do not want the disagreement to degenerate further.

We got reports that some persons were disrupting ongoing repairs of the ruptured pipelines and that was why some people were profiled.

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I was emphatic that we cannot tolerate anyone taking the law into his hands, Suleiman said.

Investigations showed that the leak, which occurred on May 17 this year, discharged about 1,114 barrels of crude oil into the environment and polluted the Ramos River and farmlands.

The draft JIV report said the 1,114 barrels of crude impacted a total land area of 113.3 hectares in Aghoro 1 but the community claimed that the impacted area was 1825 hectares.

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Customs Corner

PTML Customs Command Generates N66.9b, Targets Two-Hour Clearance Time for Vehicles

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Author: Gift Wada.

The Port Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has collected N66,920,181,586.30 as total revenue for the first quarter of 2024, which is N22,198,965,809.55 higher than N44,721,215,776.75 collected between January and March 2023, representing 49.6 percent increase.

The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the command, Comptroller Saidu Yusuf, in a press statement signed by the Command’s Spokesperson, Chief Superintendent of Customs Muhammad Yakubu, on 13 April 2024, described the increase in revenue collection as a laudable feat.

Comptroller Yusuf, while commending the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, for initiating strategies to achieve faster cargo clearance, assured that PTML Command under his watch aims to surpass its record of three-hour cargo clearance for compliant traders.

“The launching of time release study (TRS), which is ongoing, and other deliberate efforts by the Comptroller General have contributed to expanding terminal space and promoting ease of doing business in PTML.

“The PTML command has the potential to achieve two-hour cargo clearance and surpass its existing three hours records if port users compliance level is improved,” he said.

Comptroller Yusuf, who described PTML as one of the safest and most secure environments for Roll On Roll Off (RoRo) and general cargoes, also advised importers and their agents to take advantage of the incentives available for compliant traders such as fast track, advance ruling and possible migration to the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status.

He reminded port users in PTML of the robust and time-conscious dispute resolution mechanism, which has contributed immensely to the revenue collection, trade facilitation, and anti-smuggling functions of the command.

While commending the various government and private sector stakeholders for their cooperation and support towards the realisation of the government’s goal for revenue collection and prevention of unlawful activities, Comptroller
Yusuf expressed optimism that the command will surpass its annual target for the year.

He described the importation of vehicles meant for Nigerian roads into neighbouring countries with the intent to smuggle them through unapproved roads into Nigeria as unpatriotic and an act of economic sabotage as the command has the capacity for seamless and efficient processing of such automobile cargoes.

For the second quarter and first half of the year, the CAC enjoined command officers to maximally deploy available technology and rededicate themselves to the job to achieve more.

He reminded port users that there is increased anti-smuggling vigilance to uncover concealment such as under declaration and smuggling of prohibited items. The CAC added that any discovered infraction will fully evoke the Nigeria Customs Service Act (NCSA) 2023, where there are spelt-out penalties.

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Customs Corner

Comptroller Jaiyeoba Commends Apapa Scanning Officers for Non-Compromise

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Author: Ibe Wada.

The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, has commended Officers of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology Unit (NIITU) for their invaluable contributions to the overall success of the Command.

Comptroller Jaiyeoba, who paid an unscheduled visit to the scanner site, reminded the officers of the importance of teamwork in sustaining the gains of compliance and revenue collection recently recorded by the command.

In a press statement issued on Tuesday, 9 April 2024, by the Public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent of Customs, Abubakar Usman, the CAC thanked Deputy Comptroller of Customs Salamatu Atuluku, the Scanner Manager of the scanning site and encouraged the unit not to be deterred by complaints coming from persons who were made to pay accurate duties to the government after issuance of demand notices.

According to him, no business person made to part with money will be happy with Officers who refuse to compromise the ethics of their jobs.

Addressing the officers, he said, “The main reason for me coming here is to appreciate you. I may not see you, but I have seen your work, and I won’t keep quiet about what I have seen. You are doing very well.”

He urged the Officers to remain steadfast in their commitment to integrity, emphasising that uncompromising adherence to their duties would ensure their credibility before the public and their superiors.

“For those of you doing intervention in the form of Demand Notice(DN), there is nobody who part with money that will be happy with you. They will want to play intelligent by hiding somewhere. When you fetch them from their hiding place, they become your enemy. Whatever they write about anybody here will still come down to me, and if anybody works well, the onus on me is to defend such a person”. He added.

The CAC acknowledged the challenges faced by Officers issuing demand notices, highlighting the inevitability of dissatisfaction from individuals required to pay accurate duties to the government.

He reminded the unit not to be swayed by such complaints but to focus on upholding the integrity of their work.

Comptroller Jaiyeoba encouraged the officers to remain resilient, noting that their commitment to excellence would lead to further responsibilities and recognition.

“Just have it at the back of your mind that you owe yourself the duty of doing your work diligently whether anyone comes around as a friend or enemy. It is not enough for you to rest. The reward for hard work is more work.” He concluded.

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Customs Corner

PH Oil & Gas FTZ Customs Generates N11B, Surpasses Revenue Target

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Author: Lucy Nyambi.

The Nigeria Customs Service, PH Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Command, has generated the sum of N11,745,352,898.00 in the first quarter of 2024. This surpasses the revenue target of N1,245,352,898.00, representing an 11.9% increment in the first quarter of 2024.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Command Public Relations Officer, ASC II Paul Gimba, on Monday, 8 April 2024, on behalf of the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Abubakar Umar.

According to the statement, Comptroller Abubakar Umar attributed the achievement to robust and positive engagement with relevant stakeholders in the industry.

He said, “This remarkable record was achieved as a result of robust and positive engagement with relevant stakeholders in the industry. This stakeholder engagement has minimised resistance to customs laws, improved problem solving and identified potential risks and challenges from stakeholders’ perspectives and trade facilitation. ”

“This line of action is in line with the Comptroller-General of Customs Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR policy thrust of Consolidation, Collaboration, Innovation and implementation of the CGC’s trade facilitation initiatives”. He emphasised.

According to the CAC, the Command will continue to facilitate trade in the export of refined sugar “from Bundu Sugar Refinery, fertiliser from Notore Chemical Industries PLC and LNG from Bonny Island including collection of revenue on goods entering into the Customs territory such as Oil and Gas Equipment, oil well supplies, spare parts and instrumentation and tubing etc.”

Comptroller Umar stated that the command’s zero tolerance for revenue leakage had earned a commendation from the CGC.

“On the 26th February 2024, the Comptroller-General of Customs commended three officers of this Command over the recovery of N3,118,444,588.00. It cannot be over-emphasized the role of collective efforts and dedication to duty of Officers and Men of this Command in this significant achievement. ” He said.

The Customs Area Controller appreciated the CGC and the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service in the commendation of officers’ diligence, which has boosted the morale of officers and men of the Command.

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