By Seun Ibiyemi
The Federal Operations Unit Zone A of Nigeria Customs Service has announced that it made seizures 319,525 litres of PMS, others worth a duty paid value of N7,813,257,112 and generated N617,919,095.19 as total revenue made last year.
Acting Controller of the unit, Deputy Comptroller, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu who disclosed this in his maiden press briefing said the unit will intensify its anti-smuggling activities and block areas of revenue leakages in year 2022 .
On arrests and prosecutions made last year, he said a total of 116 suspects were arrested, 18 were arraigned in court and 69 of them were released on administrative bail.
DC Ejibunu who gave a breakdown of seizures made, listed 751 pieces of cartridges, 82,171 bags equivalent of 135 trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice, 12,781 kegs at 25 litres each of Premium motor spirit, 12,394 cartons of frozen poultry products and 562 units of used vehicles.
Other seizures listed are Used shoes – 312 sacks; 11,992 pairs; Used clothing – 1,638 bales; 5,669 pieces; Used fridges – 309 units; Used compressors – 896 pieces; Vegetable oil – 3,553 kegs; Used tyres – 3,177 pieces; Tomato paste – 239 pieces; 568 cartons; Indian hemp – 733 sacks; 3,522.1kg; Unprocessed wood – 16 containers; Carbide – 43 drums; Unapproved drugs – 3,671 cartons; Foreign soap – 319 cartons; Used motorcycles – 149 units and many more.
The Acting Controller reiterated the resolve by the unit to strengthen the anti smuggling activities by fully deploying all the support and logistics provisions made available by the Comptroller General of Customs.
He said the 16 operational vehicles and 5 gun trucks now available to the unit will boost its anti-smuggling activities.
While assuring compliant traders of protection and trade facilitation, DC Ejibunu stressed that deviant behaviours of smugglers in some border communities will be lawfully tackled this year with higher intensity.
The Acting Controller sought support and cooperation of traditional rulers and state governments in the fight against smuggling. He decried a situation where some suspected smugglers are employees and appointees of state governments.
DC Ejibunu said, “There is no gainsaying that 2021 was indeed an eventful year for the Unit. Most of you will attest to the above assertion having followed closely our activities in the preceding year. I remain grateful for the steadfastness you have maintained in monitoring and covering the activities of the Unit which makes you dependable allies.
“As earlier mentioned, the preceding year was eventful indeed going by the quantity and quality of seizures recorded by the Unit, the total revenue generated, the number of notorious smugglers arrested and the number of Commendation Letters received from Headquarters, the unprecedented provision of 16 operational vehicles as well as 5 Gun Trucks by Headquarters to the Unit to boost anti-smuggling activities within the Zone. The epileptic power supply hitherto suffered by the Unit in the office environment was equally addressed by the Comptroller-General of Customs – Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his Management with the purchase and installation of 250KVA generating set. On a sad note, we lost 4 gallant officers during operations in the preceding year.
“The Unit generated revenue to the tune of Six hundred and seventeen million, nine hundred and nineteen thousand and ninety-five naira, twenty-five kobo only (N 617,919,095.25k). The year under review had a total suspect of 116 while 18 were arraigned, 69 were released on Administrative Bail, 1 handed over to NDLEA and 23 in custody presently.
“The tail end of 2021 witnessed the re-jigging of the Unit with operational vehicles, gun trucks and Commendation Letters by the Comptroller-General of Customs and his Management to galvanise officers and men to improve on their performance. Obviously, the re-jigging was the magic wand that shot up the seizure profile of the Unit between September and December, 2021.
“In this New Year, the Unit has discreetly mapped out strategies to vigorously pursue revenue recoveries and ensure we meet or even surpass any target given to us. All revenue leakages must be blocked as the Customs Intelligent Unit will spread their tentacles to furnish the Unit with credible information regarding concealments, transfer of value, wrong classification and low value.
“Regarding anti-smuggling activities, our focus will be the border areas as we are going to dissipate a lot of energies to intensify patrols and ensure unCustoms goods do not find their way into the country. We are not unaware of the fact that election year is just around the corner. It is a period during which illicit importation takes place and certainly, that will not happen.
“Let me at this point warn economic saboteurs and dare-devil smugglers in the Zone to stay clear or be served their waterloos, if they don’t embrace legitimate economic activities. In terms of trade facilitation, the Unit is overtly ready to protect genuine traders. Gentlemen of the Press, I really appreciate your contribution in achieving the mandate of the Unit and I implore you all not to be tired. It is my belief that greater achievements will be recorded this year.”
NIMASA, MWUN dialogue on fate of disengaged NNSL seafarers
By Seun Ibiyemi
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN have begun discussions on how to resolve the lingering issue of terminal benefits of Seafarers whose appointments were terminated due to the liquidation of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir JamohOFR, and the Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress who is also the President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, jointly announced an agreement for physical verification of the affected seafarers/next of kin as the case may apply; the nature of appointment of all affected seafarers, and the exact amount due each beneficiary.
The NIMASA DG also assured the Union that their position will be communicated to the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, to ensure the Government takes all necessary actions to bring to a conclusion the issue of NNSL.
“The issue of industrial harmony in the maritime sector is of uttermost interest to our administration at NIMASA. We have been at this for a while. NIMASA had offered N100 million as settlement, which the Union declined.
“We have also discovered that some of those demanding settlement did not even have any employment letter. We will follow the lead from our supervising Ministry and ensure the physical verification exercise is brought to a logical conclusion. Our Honourable Minister will be duly updated by the Agency. I look forward to closing this issue in months to come,” the DG said.
On his part, the President General, Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adeyanju restated the commitment of the Union to peaceful resolution of disputes; to ensure the rights and privileges of workers are well protected, without disrupting productivity in the Maritime Sector. He commended the Jamoh led Management at NIMASA,urging others to follow suit.
“I would like to commend NIMASA under Dr Jamoh, for the unflinching commitment to industrial harmony. He is always a phone call away to resolve any issue. Yes, NIMASA offered N100 million to offset the terminal benefits.
“However, if others like Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council and the rest also add funds, there will be enough to go round the expected beneficiaries. As we did for dockworkers when a flat rate of two hundred thousand was paid during port concession; that is what we want, putting into consideration the realities on ground now.”
COP28: Airtel Africa calls for enabling policy environment, collaboration for climate action in Africa
The Group CEO of Airtel Africa plc, Segun Ogunsanya, has reiterated the importance of an enabling policy environment for sustainable development and climate action in partnership with Africa’s private sector at COP28.
Mr. Ogunsanya, a member of the United Nations Global Compact’s African Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC), addressed a distinguished audience at a COP28 side event co-hosted by Airtel Africa and the ABLC.
Guests included the President of Botswana, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi; the Finance Minister of Nigeria, Mr. Wale Edun; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Nigeria, Mr. Nyesom Wike; Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC); Chairman of BUA Group Nigeria limited, Abdul Samad Rabiu and several business leaders from across Africa.
The Group CEO of Airtel Africa urged African business leaders and governments to join forces to advance sustainable growth, development, and prosperity across the continent.
He said, “We stress the importance of an enabling policy environment for sustainable development and climate action in partnership with Africa’s private sector. Livelihood and living must go together.”
He also shared details of Airtel Africa’s environmental stewardship initiatives. These include ‘Project Green,’ launched in 2022, and focused on circular economy practices, especially in the responsible replacement of end-of-life equipment to minimise potential adverse environmental impacts.
Furthermore, in March 2023, Airtel Africa joined the multi-stakeholder partnership to eliminate open waste burning from Africa. This collaborative effort with local authorities, private companies, community groups, civil society and development partners targets a 60 percent reduction by 2030 and complete elimination of open waste burning by 2040.
Mr. Ogunsanya declared, “Airtel Africa’s corporate purpose, our driving force, is to ‘transform lives.’ This is not simply a slogan but a genuine passion that informs every aspect of our operations and every decision we take.”
He concluded, “It is our firm belief that African businesses, including Airtel Africa, stand ready to leverage global markets to accelerate the transition to a future-fit economy. We must deliver economic development, inclusive growth and GHG emissions reduction at the same time to enjoy the fruits of sustainability.”
The United Nations African Business Leaders Coalition (ABLC) is a collaborative initiative comprising African business CEOs committed to fostering sustainable growth, prosperity, and development throughout the African continent.
Members in the coalition, including Airtel Africa, committed to escalating the adoption of renewable energy, investing in climate-adaptation solutions, and ensuring an equitable transition. During COP28, the ABLC released a policy recommendation urging governments to establish conducive regulatory frameworks that facilitate collective climate action.
The recommendation further advocates for the setting of decarbonization targets and the acceleration of initiatives such as green minerals and climate adaptation programs and calls for increased access to climate financing to support these endeavors.
Non-Interest Financing critical to funding amidst high debt service levels — Wale Edun
By Matthew Denis
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has stated that the country needs Non-Interest Financing as a critical sector towards funding as the country is faced with high levels of debt servicing.
The Minister’s disclosure at the SEC Nigeria-Islamic Financial Service Board (IFSB) International Forum held in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, “Non-interest financing is a critical part of funding and that is because as we all know, we are faced with three crises right now which are the climate, and biodiversity but there is also a debt crisis in major countries and of course, the available solution is non-debt, equity and financing mechanisms that will eliminate the pains of paying interest on loans. Rather, it is better to have a participatory opportunity that equity and non-interest finance gives.
“And so what we are saying here is a critical piece of the solution to the crises of the world currently, including the fact that for the rapid and inclusive growth this administration desires, we need to have green projects so we don’t only need to have projects funded by equity.
“As we all know, our debt service levels and revenue to debt service ratio are so high and currently constrained.”
The Minister stressed that there is fiscal exhaustion in many parts of the world and there is also a need to finance green projects.
“So the only way to grow our economy is not just relying on foreign direct investments, and domestic investments but tap into the world of non-interest financing.”
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