Finance

Customs frustrating investigations at ports ―Police…Are they assisting the NASS members in catching import duty defaulters?/BA

THE Commissioner of Police in charge of Western ports, Celestine Okoye has revealed how officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) frustrate investigations at the ports by the force.

According to him, lack of cordial relationship among the various security agencies in the port is the reason why a customs officer would frustrate the intelligence gathering of a police officer on the importation of dangerous goods through the seaports.

Celestine Okoye made the revelation during a working visit by the executives of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) led by its National President, Increase Uche recently.

He alleged that the police is often referred to the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali who is in Abuja over matters that could be handled by the commands here in Lagos, hence the delay and frustrations faced by the police on the investigation of dangerous cargoes at the ports.

According to him, “Our security agencies are polarized. Sometimes we write to Customs just to assist us in the investigation, but they would be referring us to the CG in Abuja to go and get clearance.

“Sometimes, even after seeing the evidence in the cargo, the Customs would still refuse to share information; they would rather refer us to the CG and you know that the moment you are referred to the CG, they have indirectly killed the investigation.

“When I came to Apapa, I visited other agencies and asked for their corporation and for us to synergize, because when agencies synergize, there would be a level playing ground, things would move well, but the Customs are not helping issues.”

He stated that the force would not be deterred from carrying out its statutory duty as enshrined in the constitution, but added that the cooperation of other security agencies is required.

When contacted, the Customs Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of the Tin-Can command, Uche Ejesieme responded that the allegation is untrue and strange.

Uche, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs (DSC) said that all the security agencies in the port were working for the Federal Government and towards the same goal.

In his words, “Cooperation of security agencies in the port is one of the cardinal and important factors of the Nigeria Customs Service.

“No Area Controller will not respond to such request from a police officer.

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