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Nigeria Customs Uncovers New Methods of Smuggling Rice

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Nigeria Customs Uncovers New Methods of Smuggling Rice

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has alleged that despite the closure of the land borders, criminals still smuggle rice into the country with caskets and gas cylinders.

The agency stated that the ingenuity deployed by criminals or smugglers has made it possible for contraband items to come into the country. – Report From ThisDayLive

NCS’ Public Relations Officer, Mr Joseph Attah, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja Wednesday, explained that there were so many factors responsible for the entrance of smuggled items into the country in spite of efforts to stop them by the service.

He stated that most smugglers use unapproved routes to bring in contraband goods into the country while some deviously conceal the items to escape arrest by Customs operatives.

“People often ask where were Customs operatives when contraband goods entered the country without being stopped.

“We have seen a situation where rice is smuggled using gas cylinders or a situation where a spare tyre is used. The tyre is perforated and rice is loaded inside and when you open the booth you see what is supposed to be a tyre.

“If you do not have a tip-off, you are not likely to know that inside that spare tyre are 10 or 15 mudus (measures) of foreign rice.

“Another circumstance, smugglers use casket that is used to carry a corpse to either smuggle rice or petrol. They sometimes load petrol in jerrycans and put it inside a casket, wrapped in such a way that you think is carrying a dead body.

“A situation like this, if you don’t have intelligence, you wouldn’t know. For instance, without a tip-off, it is unlikely as a human being to accost a vehicle carrying the casket with a supposed dead body and request for such to be opened.

“If people with all these tricks succeed and escape, their smuggled items are what you find in shops, markets, and houses,” he explained.

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He added that smugglers’ actions are meant to sabotage the economy and the security of the country and assured Nigerians that the Customs were determined and committed to checking that.

Attah stated that Customs had fortified its strategies and intelligence to check the smuggling.

Nigeria in August last year, closed its land borders to check smuggling, especially of rice and petroleum products.

But the closure did not go down well with Nigerian neighbours, Benin Republic, Chad and Niger.

The authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had earlier this month constituted a committee, headed by President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso, to study and make a full report on the impact of Nigeria’s land border closure on its neighbours.

The decision to set up the committee was reached in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at an extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders convened on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit to discuss the issue and other pressing regional matters.

The federal government closed Nigeria’s land borders in August 2019 mainly to check to smuggle of agricultural and petroleum products.
The government said the border closure had been positive for the economy as local production of food such as rice had increased while local consumption of petrol had reduced.

It has also vowed to continue the border closure until its neighbours, mainly Benin, Niger and Chad, ensure they properly regulate their sides of the borders.

However, the neighbouring countries affected by the closure said the border closure violated ECOWAS and African Union protocols.

The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had earlier this month held high-level meetings on the assessment of the situation of the closure of land borders of Nigeria to goods.

The two-day meeting held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso assessed the situation of the closure of the land borders of Nigeria to goods, pursued the overall objective to reach an acceptable solution by all parties and proposed actions for the rapid reopening of the land borders of Nigeria for the free movement of goods.

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Air Peace disputes demanding payment for an evacuation flight to Dubai

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Air Peace

Air Peace disputes demanding payment for an evacuation flight to Dubai

The management of Air Peace has disclaimed having any link with offensive efforts of one Mr. Simon that has been sending messages to innocent customers, fleecing them of their money. Simon with the handle @simono1219 has been requesting the airline’s customers to pay for a non-existent evacuation flight.

This was disclosed by the airline in a statement it issued on Tuesday via its Twitter handle. It explained that the individual and others like him brand themselves as ‘agents of Air Peace’, sliding into peoples’ direct messages and sending them unsolicited and mischievous messages.

It stated, “The general public is hereby advised to shun messages from such swindlers, as Air Peace has not engaged an agent for special or evacuation flights. Passengers will normally pay directly to us. If you receive such a deceitful message, kindly send a mail to our call centre to confirm its authenticity and enable us to do the needful.”

Meanwhile, about three weeks ago, the management of Air Peace was contacted by the Indian High Commission in Nigeria to undertake the evacuation of stranded Indian nationals to Kerala, India.

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The airline explained that a list of passengers that would be attended to have been released and it has started reaching out to the Indians on Saturday.

It stated, “A list of the passengers to be attended to has already been given to us and we have commenced reaching out to them. The flight shall depart Lagos on May 30, 2020, to Cochin Airport, Kerala.”

The flight is not free anyway. According to the airline, payments are expected immediately and they are; Economy class for $1,300 and Business class is tagged $1,700.

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Coronavirus: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano airports will reopen in few days – NCAA declares

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Airports Reopen Captain Musa Nuhu NCAA

Coronavirus: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano airports will reopen in few days – NCAA declares

The director-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, said major airports in the country would in the next few days reopen after weeks of inactivity caused by the novel Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Source gathered that the airports to  to be reopened are the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja; Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt Airport, Choba, Rivers state.

The Nation reports that Nuhu stated this at a virtual event organized by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) titled COVID-19: The challenges and opportunity for Nigeria’s aviation value chain, during and post.

The federal government had on March 16, placed a travel ban on 13 countries, including China, the United States, and Italy that had recorded over 1,000 cases of coronavirus.

According to the report, on March 13, the federal government shut all airports for one month and later extended it by two weeks.

Nuhu said the NCAA worked with representatives of airlines and ground handling companies before forwarding a proposal to the minister of aviation for approval. The NCAA boss said: “We may resume domestic operations with four or five airports and we hope to expand as we get better. We don’t want to rush everything at the same time and get it choked up. “Every money is important and we cannot achieve the two-meter physical distance. We are hopeful in the next few days we can resolve those issues and allow the airlines to commence operations.

“We have made our suggestion and recommendations and we are awaiting feedback from the ministry of aviation.” Nuhu said air transport must be safe and not become part of the ways of spreading coronavirus.

He stated that physical distancing was an issue as discussions were still on leaving the middle seats in an aircraft vacant.

NCAA has, however, released COVID-19 protocols as approved by the federal ministry of health for the aviation industry. The protocols are for Nigeria-based crew operating international flights. The crew members are now required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and observe Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures for the duration of their flights. Nuhu, who announced the approval of the new protocols in a letter to airline operators, airports, and other service providers, added that the crew members would not be quarantined but would undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 every 14 days at the expense of their employers.

According to the letter, the new protocols replace the current practice where Nigeria- based international flight crew members are quarantined for 14 days upon their return to Nigeria.

He added that in the new protocols, the airliners must ensure among others, orientation and sensitization of their crew on Infection, Prevention, and Control (IPC) measures.

The protocols also state that airlines must have adequate stock of PPE, a minimum 70 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizers and Universal Precaution Kits (UPK) onboard every aircraft.

The letter read in part: “Onboard the flight crew will request passengers wash their hands after using the lavatory, apply the disinfectant spray in lavatory every 60 minutes during the flight and maintain a safe distance between passengers and themselves; avoid direct physical contact and serve only pre-packed meals to passengers.

“Flight deck crew must wear non-medical face masks and gloves but can remove face masks when the cockpit door is closed.

SOURCE had previously reported that the federal government evacuated 292 who were stranded in Saudi Arabia due to the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was reported that the flight conveying the evacuees arrived in Nigeria on the night of Tuesday, May 19, at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

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Lockdown: FG seized aircraft for operating commercial flight into Nigeria.

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Aircraft flight Nigeria Lockdown seized

Lockdown: FG seized aircraft for operating commercial flight into Nigeria.

Flair Aviation aircraft, belonging to aviation firm based in the United Kingdom (UK) has been seized by the Federal government for operating commercial flight into Nigeria during the lockdown.

Hadi Sirika,  Minister of aviation disclosed this on Sunday, May 17 via his twitter.

The crew members are being interrogated while the aircraft has been seized.

Sirika said: “…Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights.

“This is callous! The craft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. There shall be a maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve!”

Before now, the federal government has permitted the firm to operate flights only on a humanitarian basis.

Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that the federal government was trying to trace most of the 155 passengers in the aircraft that brought to Nigeria the Italian confirmed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

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Legit.ng gathered that the minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure on Monday, March 2, while briefing newsmen in Abuja, adding that 156 passengers were on the manifest of the flight that brought the Italian.

According to the report, unlike what obtains in other countries, the name and other details of the Italian patient had not been made public yet.

The minister said some of the passengers on board the aircraft that brought the Italian were yet to be traced because of the ambiguity of the contact information they provided.

He said: “We cannot give a fixed figure on the contact tracing because it is a continuing process. But the only one we know for sure is the 156 passengers who were on the aircraft with him (the Italian) and those ones are being tracked and we have been talking to them and we are getting cooperation.

“There have been a few challenges. Some people gave telephone numbers that didn’t work or (when called) said switched off. There are some who probably don’t have telephones or some who are new arrivals in Nigeria.

“They are not yet registered with any telephone company, but there are ways in which they can be found out. Some have probably left the country if they were to be here for a day or two.”

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