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SENATE DENIES RECEIVING N20M PALLIATIVES FROM NDDC

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SENATE DENIES RECIVING N20M PALLIATIVES FROM NDDC

The Senate has denied claims that its members received 20 million Naira COVID-19 palliative from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The statement was in response to claims by the Director of Projects, Interim Management Committee of the Commission, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, that the agency gave 20 million naira to each senator while each of the House of Representatives members collected 15 million as palliative.

The Spokesperson for the Senate, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, denied Ojougboh’s claims in a statement titled, “NDDC boss says senators got N20m, Reps ₦15m each for COVID-19 – A disclaimer’ on Tuesday.

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Basiru challenged Ojougboh to either release the full list of the lawmakers, who benefitted from the palliative or tender a public apology immediately.

“The Senate Challenges Dr. Ojougboh to publicly provide evidence of his claim and list the names of the Senators he allegedly gave the alleged sum. Failure to provide evidence of his claim, the Senate hereby demands an immediate retraction and a public apology from Dr. Cairo Ojougboh’’, it read.

Meanwhile, Ojougboh has denied the claims he purportedly made stating that it was false.

Ojougboh, in a statement titled, ‘Re: Senate challenges NDDC over alleged ₦20m palliatives: A clarification,’ denied making such allegations.

Part of the statement reads, “I want to state without equivocation, without any hint of doubt, that I neither issued nor made such a statement. Indeed, there is no provision in the Commission’s budget for such a payment.

“Let me make it clear to the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, as well as to the general public, that I would have resisted such a payment if it were ever brought up in the Commission”, he said

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Customs Corner

Customs, World Bank, FMITI, Join Forces to Enhance Trade Facilitation

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Author: Lucy Nyambi.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in conjunction with the World Bank and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, convened with maritime stakeholders, regulatory and security agencies to identify bottlenecks hindering trade facilitation and provide a holistic approach to addressing them.

The World Bank team led by Aleksandar Stojanov and delegates from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment were in Apapa, Lagos State, on Monday, 10 June 2024, to study operations at the port and inspection processes.

The Customs Area Controller (CAC) Apapa Area Comand, Comptroller Babatunde Olomu, who presided over the meeting, stated that since he came on board, the Command has leveraged on stakeholder engagement, “We engage sufficiently with the security agencies and other regulatory agencies on the ground, and our actions have been intelligence-driven, and we have been able to key into the trade pillars, and significantly, it has helped us towards our tasks”.

He said, “For May, we were able to generate N175 billion into the national coffers, which is quite above our target. We were able to exceed the target with about N20 billion”, Comptroller Olomu stated.

The Area Controller emphasised the commitment of the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Adewale Adeniyi, in facilitating trade.

According to him, in the last few months, the CGC has addressed issues surrounding trade facilitation, “Initially, we were adopting the Fast Track, but under his administration, we have upgraded to the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)”.

“Also, the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement mandates every customs administration to set up advance ruling which we keyed into, under the administration of the present CGC; these two concepts have positively impacted the trade facilitation system”, he emphasised.

Speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Udoka-Anite, represented by Dr. Brenda Max-Nduaguibe, stressed that the World Bank has been steadfast in their support and collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s Trade Facilitation goal and strengthening the economy to position Nigeria as a leading trade hub in the region.

Stakeholders at the meeting commended the efforts of the NCS in facilitating trade while also calling on terminal owners to upgrade their services.

Oluseyi Adebiyi said, “We have heard from representatives of the World Bank and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. The idea is to improve revenue and facilitate trade, and their presence here will do a lot. I know that after this meeting, there will be a lot of improvement at the port”, he said.

In another development, the NCS has kicked off a training on Non-Intrusive Inspection Course for Scanner managers on Monday, 10 July 2024, at the Apapa Scanning sight.

The facilitator, Comptroller Olatunde Olaniyan, in charge of the Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Unit, stated that the training is initiated by the Unit and approved by the CGC.

Participants at the training acknowledged that it is coming at the right time, as it creates room for the expansion of knowledge to collect maximum revenue for the service, suppress smuggling and at the same time, facilitate trade.

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Customs Corner

Operation Whirlwind Hits Hard on PMS Smugglers, As Operative Makes Significant Seizures

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Author: Muhammad Bashir.

Barely two weeks after Nigeria Customs Service launched “Operation Whirlwind” – a decisive onslaught against illegal trade of petroleum products across Nigeria’s borders, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Adewale Adeniyi, says the Service has started recording massive turnout in curtailing the menace of PMS smuggling across the federation.

Addressing newsmen on Monday, 10 June 2024, in Yola, the Adamawa state capital, the CGC re-emphasised strategic efforts to address the critical issue of fuel smuggling. Stating that the exercise aimed at curtailing economic saboteurs has the solid support of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

He said the Service had, in response to the alarming increase in fuel smuggling, launched the initiative to defend the National currency, reduce pressures that may be attributed to the activities of smugglers and dismantle their cartels within the ecosystem, adding, “In the past 2 weeks
we have received credible intelligence on the relative stability of the
price of PMS around the Border States, this is easily attributed to
disruptions in the operations of smugglers.”

According to him, the operatives attached to the initiative had, within 7 days of non-stop task, intercepted a total of 150,950 litres of PMS, valued at N105,965,391, at various locations nationwide, highlighting, “On Friday 31 May 2024. A total of 45,000 litres of PMS in a tanker was seized at Mubi, Adamawa State.”

He stated that “On Saturday, 1 June 2024, a total of 45,000 litres of PMS
in a tanker was also seized at Mubi, Adamawa, while between Monday, 3 June 2024, and Friday, 7 June 2024, a total of 92,928 litres of PMS in 25 litres of different sizes of jerry cans at Mubi, Song-Wuroboki, Mubi-Sahuda road and Gidan Madara – Sahuda road, in Adamawa state and others in Illela, Sokoto and Agbaragba creek in Mfum border of Cross River State.

The CGC further stated that the Service has also recorded significant seizures of 129,185 litres of PMS from unpatriotic individuals attempting to deprive Nigerians of access to fuel and cause unnecessary hardship valued at N90,558,685, adding “A combined diversion of 280,135 litres of PMS of N196,524,075.50 raises serious economic concerns with broader implications on National Security.”

The CG lamented the unfortunate increase in smuggling of PMS across Borno, Kebbi, Sokoto, Taraba, and Katsina states borders between April and May 2024, and the Service deemed it necessary to collaborate with the NSA to come up with a lasting solution to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the full benefits of fuel price deregulation in line with the vision of President Bola Ahmed
Tinubu.

He said, “Between April and May 2024, Borno and Kebbi States recorded 76% and 59% increases in evacuations, ranking among the top three states. On a year-on-year basis (May 2023 and May 2024), Sokoto and Taraba States recorded the most substantial increases in evacuations, with 247% and 234%
increases, respectively.”

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Customs Corner

NCS Sokoto/Zamfara Command Strengthens Relationship with EFCC Zonal Office

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Author: Vivian Daniel.

As a remarkable way of consolidating its collaboration with other sister agencies, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Sokoto/Zamfara Command, Comptroller Kamal Mohammed hosted the newly posted Economic and Financial Crime Commission Acting Zonal Director, ACE Nwanneka Nwokike and his management team at the Command’s headquarters Sokoto.

This was conveyed in a press statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Superintendent of Customs Abdullahi Tsafe Abubakar, on 7 June 2024 on behalf of the Customs Area Controller.

The CAC congratulated the Zonal Director for his posting to head the Zonal Office of the Commission. He further eulogised the robust synergy between the Service and the Commission for the past two decades.

The CAC reiterated that the NCS’ mandates include revenue generation, trade facilitation and suppression of smuggling, of which the Service has been at the forefront in supporting the Commission’s fight against money laundering.

 

Comptroller Mohammed further commended the effort of the Commission in the last 21 years since its inception and has made phenomenal and remarkable achievements in its assets recovery, convictions and forfeitures, thereby carving a niche for itself in the history of Nigeria.

The CAC affirmed that in line with the Policy Thrust of Collaboration of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, the synergy between the Service and the Commission will permeate down to the Command level.

He equally assured the Acting Zonal Director that the alliance existing between the Command and their directorate would not only be sustained but would be moved to the next level while stressing that both institutions need each other to achieve their statutory mandates.

In his response, the Acting Zonal Director, ACE Nwanneka Nwokike, in his speech, reminisced on the long interrelation between the Commission and the NCS in the earlier days of the Commission. He underscored the need for combined efforts between the two agencies in intelligence sharing while maintaining their areas of interest.

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