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Customs Intensifies War Against Smuggling, Intercept Goods Worth N1.6bn

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By Eric Elezuo

The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has continued to win the war against smuggling and smugglers as it recorded a landmark feat in less than one month, intercepting  goods with a total duty paid value (DPV) of N1, 461, 006, 823. 8 in addition to recovering the sum of N166, 207, 735. 25 from duty payments and demand notices on general goods from seaports, airports, and border stations through classification, transfer of value, and other forms of duty payment shortchange.

The revelation was made by the Controller, FOU, Zone A, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, during an interaction with the press at the Unit’s headquarters in Ikeja.

The Controller noted that cumulatively, the Service recovered a total of One Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty Seven Million, Two Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Nine Naira (N1, 627, 214, 559) within the period under review.

While asserting that there is no hiding place for smugglers, he outlined the intercepted goods to include Indian Hemp, 64 exotic vehicles, 6003 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 963 cartons of frozen poultry, 431 cans of vegetable oil, 163 bales of used clothing, 569 pieces of used tyre, 69 sacks of sugar among many other items.

Comptroller Uba stressed that the items were intercepted at different locations at different times within period March 19 and April 9, 2018. He noted that while the parcels and sacks of Indian Hemp were seized at the Olorunda axis of Ogun State, the sacks of 50kg rice were intercepted from Ilogbo, Abeokuta. All interceptions, he said, were based on credible intelligence report, adding that the seized Indian hemp will be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

He maintained that all smugglers or would-be smugglers will sooner or later be caught, and so should desist from the act for their own good. He added that 10 suspects were arrested in connection to some of the seizures.

“Let me warn all smugglers or intending smugglers and their accomplices to desist from such trade malpractices and invest their money in legitimate businesses as the Unit has devised other operational modalities that will give them a run for their money… and land them in jail,” Uba said.

He expressed appreciation to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), the management team of NCS and men and officers of the unit as well as sister agencies and the press for their various supports.

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Economy

Illegal JVs in Oil Industry: Agbakoba Threatens to Sue FG

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A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has threatened to drag the Federal Government to court to determine the constitutionality of continuing outsourcing of oil and gas management to International Oil Companies (IOCs) through Joint Ventures (JVs) and Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs).

Agbakoba also called for a complete overhaul of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, insisting that the current system has ‘completely failed’ and is responsible for poverty and hunger across the country.

The human rights lawyers, who stated this at a press conference in Lagos, argued that the current Contract Oil model directly contradicts Sections 16 and 44(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.

He maintained that the law mandates the government to manage Nigeria’s natural resources in a manner that secures the maximum welfare, freedom, and happiness of every citizen and that the current arrangement, which primarily benefits IOCs, falls far short of this constitutional requirement.

Agbakoba also stated that it is a fundamental principle of administrative law that statutory bodies, including the government, can not delegate their core functions without express legal authorisation. Without such express authority, the current arrangements may be ultra vires and potentially void.

The lawyer said, “These responsibilities, fundamental to the nation’s sovereignty and economic well-being, may be inherently governmental and thus incapable of being lawfully delegated to private entities. Furthermore, it is dubious whether the federal government has the authority to delegate the inherent rights of Nigerians to their natural resources to third parties.

“While the federal government is reluctant to consider shared or joint ownership with state governments, who represent Nigerians more directly, it sees no issue in delegating, outsourcing, and sharing joint ownership with IOCs. This inconsistency raises questions about the government’s interpretation and application of its constitutional mandate.

“We will approach the court to declare that the PIA, the current legal framework for the continued outsourcing or unlawful delegation of the management of Nigeria’s oil and gas to IOCs, is unconstitutional.

“The dominance of IOCs in the sector has historically limited opportunities for developing local content and building domestic capacity in the oil and gas industry,” he said.

Agbakoba also said that the current system of JVs and PSCs, which was initially justified by a lack of funds, now appears to violate the inherent rights of Nigerians over their natural resources.

He stated that if the country adopts a “Development Oil” approach, it can reclaim control over its vital oil and gas sector and transform it into a powerful engine for national development.

The senior lawyer insisted that this paradigm shift requires bold policy changes, including securitising oil reserves through a Sovereign Oil Fund, allowing Nigeria to finance its oil and gas operations.

He said, “The current exit of IOCs presents both a challenge and an opportunity for new Nigerian actors in the oil and gas sector. In collaboration with the federal government, these actors must rise to the occasion and build a new strategy for oil and gas exploration based on development oil principles.

“By aligning the oil and gas sector with broader national interests and constitutional obligations, Nigeria can create a more diversified, resilient, and prosperous economy that truly benefits all its citizens. This approach not only promises economic growth but also reaffirms Nigeria’s sovereignty over its natural resources, ensuring that they are managed for the welfare and security of all Nigerians, as mandated by the constitution,” Agbakoba stated.

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Dangote Refinery Reaffirms Commitment to Supply Petrol This July

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The Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, has reiterated that the Dangote oil refinery will supply petrol in July as promised.

Edwin said this when he took officials of the S&P Global on a tour of the facility over the weekend.

According to Edwin, the company aims to catalyse a virtuous cycle of industrial development, job creation, and economic prosperity by harnessing Africa’s abundant crude oil resources to produce refined products locally.

He also revealed that “as earlier promised, the company will start the production of Premium Motor Spirit this month.”

While claiming that the products from the facility are of high quality and that they meet international standards, Edwin said it could meet 100 per cent of Nigeria’s demand for petrol, diesel, kerosene, and aviation fuel, with surpluses available for export.

Meanwhile, S&P Global said the Dangote refinery is capable of resolving Nigeria’s foreign exchange challenges by putting an end to fuel importation, which mounts huge pressure on the local Naira currency.

Our correspondent learnt that S&P Global visited the Dangote Refinery at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos as part of its sovereign credit ratings assessment of Nigeria.

The team from the international rating agency was accompanied by officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

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Economy

Naira Depreciates Further, Sells at N1,517/$

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The Naira, on Monday, continued its depreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market.

Data from the parallel market section and FMDQ showed further depreciation against the dollar on Monday.

At the parallel market, a Bureau De Change operator in Wuse Zone 4, Mistila Dayyabu, said that the Naira was sold as high as N1,517 per dollar on Monday morning.

“On Monday morning, the dollar was sold at N1,517 per dollar. However, on hearing the information about the coming of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives, we started selling at N1,500 this evening, ” he said.

The figure increased from the N1, 450 per dollar it traded at the weekend.

Similarly, at the official market, FMDQ data showed that they dipped to N1478.11 per dollar on Monday from N1466.31 last Friday.

This represents an N11.8 drop from the N1466.31 recorded last Friday.

Earlier, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, said the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will do everything to bring down soaring Nigeria’s inflation, which stood at 33.22 per cent in March 2024.

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