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Okechukwu Nwanguma of NOPPRIN – CP Edgal has broken new grounds in crime control

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Okechukwu Nwanguma

The National Coordinator, Okechukwu Nwanguma of Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), comprising 46 civil society organizations committed to promoting accountability and respect for human rights. He focuses on monitoring, documenting and denouncing abuse of human rights by the police and other law enforcement agencies.

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Okechukwu Nwanguma

Okechukwu Nwanguma-Edgal

For nearly two decades, Okechukwu Nwanguma of Network on Police Reform in Nigeria has been involved in efforts to reform and strengthen state institutions in Nigeria, particularly the criminal justice system. In 2012, Okechukwu Nwanguma was the civil society liaison for a panel on police reform established by Network on Police Reform in Nigeria in response to another ineffective police reform committee set up by the government. Between 2008 and 2011, Okechukwu Nwanguma organized public tribunals on police abuse in Nigeria to testify before a panel of eminent Nigerians. For 18 years, he worked for Civil Liberties Organization in Nigeria monitoring, documenting and denouncing human rights abuses in law enforcement. He spoke with Reporters, on crime wave in Lagos State, efforts made to reduce it and other related issues. Excerpts:

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There are reports that crime wave has abated in Lagos State. What’s your honest assessment?

I have not seen the report but from anecdotal evidence including opinions expressed by most Lagosians and citizens across the country and from reports I read in the media, it’s evident that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal has broken new grounds in crime control in Lagos State. +Particularly striking for me is the fact that he’s doing so much and achieving so much without much collateral damage.

He’s mindful of the need to respect and protect human rights. He’s scrupulous in dealing with erring police officers whose conduct may smear the image of the force. Edgal is an exceptional police officer who understands requirements in a modern democracy. He recognizes the imperative of public trust, partnership and accountability in accomplishing the task.

The police cannot succeed without public trust and cooperation. That’s why he engages communities through town hall meetings where complaints against police officers bordering on corruption and abuse are punished. In short, Imohimi Edgal is promoting transparent, accountable and responsible policing in Lagos State. He’s my ideal police officer and I wish other senior police officers in the Nigeria Police Force would emulate him. If a n officer like Imohimi Edgal is at the top leadership of the Nigeria Police Force, a lot would be easier for our policemen, our country and our democracy. Particularly commendable is the positioning of police teams at strategic locations where citizens can reach them for prompt action. Dedicated phone numbers are also available for citizens to make reports to the police with ease and without fear of intimidation.

In what ways can the CP improve the command to make Lagos State safer?

He needs to relentlessly liaise with human rights groups to enlighten police officers in Lagos in the community policing process.

Is it remotely possible that the executive arm of the government uses the police to undermine other arms of government? When the executive arm of government overreaches itself by exerting undue control over security agencies and uses them to harass, intimidate and undermine other arms of government, then it’s a serious cause for concern in a democracy. When security forces are manipulated to frame allegations against heads of other arms of government in a bid to harass, blackmail and attempt to whip them “into line” in the political interest of the president and his political party, then there is serious cause for concern in a democracy. For instance, the siege on the residences of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 are clear acts of abuse of power and sheer brigandage.

Are you concerned by the conduct of security agencies?

We are concerned about actions of security agencies including the Police seeking to confine the Senate leadership to their homes to prevent them from satiating the requirements of their offices which amounts to interference with the functioning of this important arm of government and threatens our democracy. You can then imagine what ordinary Nigerians go through on a daily basis if highly placed and privileged government officials could suffer this level of harassment and intimidation.It’s notable that the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, denied allegations that the IGP ordered the police invasion and siege on the Senate President’s residence.

We also note his claim that the IGP has ordered investigation into the incident. It will be interesting to know the outcome of the investigation into this unprovoked aggression and clearly unprofessional conduct. It’s safe to conclude that these unconstitutional and anti-democratic tendencies of security agencies were endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari in whose interest the masterminds purport to act, hence it’s needless to ask him to rein in the various security agencies in their use of state aparatus for partisan purposes.

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Don’t you think the police and other security agencies should investigate financial crimes like bribery and money laundering?

While we encourage security agencies to investigate alleged bribery, money laundering or any other crime in the legislature and the judiciary, President Buhari should not give the impression that these ills are peculiar to the other arms of government . Hounding political opponents with security agencies in the guise of fighting corruption is immoral and cowardly.

The president cannot be fighting corruption in the judiciary and legislature while condoning it in the executive and especially, within the Presidency. Nigerians and the international community must take President Buhari up on these issues and also prevail on the Nigerian Police Force to stay out of politics and support democracy.

Okechukwu Nwanguma of NOPPRIN

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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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