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‘Smugglers make corruption fester in Customs service’

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‘Smugglers make corruption fester in Customs service’

Corruption festers in Nigeria customs service due to activities of smugglers in cahoots with local people in the border communities, public relation officer of the Service, Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Joseph Attah has said.
Speaking with the NationalUpdate in Abuja recently, he however expressed strong disapproval of activities of few bad eggs in the Service who abuse the process of the institution and allow themselves to be be corrupt.
He however observed that, those in the border, communities who aid and abet smugglers to escape the customs checks are the most corrupt.

He therefore warned border community dwellers to desist from giving vital information to smugglers as regards where the customs officers are stationed to aid their escape.
“When we talk of corruption, our experience in the service have shown us that the bigger corruption is even on the side of non customs officers.
“We have seen a situation where these smugglers give people money, buy handsets for people to monitor customs patrol team as informants that will give them clue as to where customs are stationed.
“It is our brothers and sisters that are sabotaging the efforts of the Nigeria customs service.
“All of us have to agree that smuggling is a crime and we should not support them or aid them or even patronize them because if they smuggle and people do not patronize them, then they will not go back and do it.
“When we support or aid smugglers, then we are corrupt as well.”

He said, “I am not going to sit down here and say every customs officer is a saint. What is important is what we do to them when they are caught in the act.
“When such officers are caught, they are being dealt with. Some will be demoted in rank, or dismissed and handed over for prosecution.
On the flip side of it, he asked rhetorically who is corrupting who and for what reason?
“It takes two to tango. The person who is complaining of bribery himself is committing offence.
“The giver, the taker are all offenders, and why are you even giving bribe, it is the fact that you have broken the law, therefore they are all criminals.”
On whether high revenue target given to the service influences hike in prices of goods and services in the country,
he said it depends on the perspective the person promoting the argument is coming from as there are instances where duties are exempted, there are instances were waivers of excise duties are removed totally for locally produced items.
He said in such cases they don’t impact seriously on the prices of goods in the market.

“I think what will skyrocket prices in the market will largely depend on the profit interest of dealers.”
Though he agreed that it could have some little impact, however he said the overall, when such revenue are used by the federal government for providing infrastructure is more.
He said the same revenue is used
to carry out other functions like building roads, hospitals, schools and providing other amenities that will make businesses to thrive.
According to him when such amenities are in place, they will make it easy for the business man to transport his goods with ease and also reduce the cost of the movement of goods.
“We don’t set target for ourselves. It is the Federal Government that look at all economic indices and the areas of revenue and how to meet the need of the country, and eventually arives at revenue target considering other factors.
“Once the target is set for the Nigeria Customs Service, it is our duty to try as much as possible to meet the target and if possible surpass it.”
On the impact of covid-19 on the revenue of Nigeria customs service he said as one of the front line agencies in the fight against the pandemic they were also performing assential duties.
He said the have not been affected by the lockdown as it did not prevent them from collecting revenue or fighting smugglers.
“Our job has been going on, there hasn’t been any day or any hour that lockdown has affected customs operation. “Seaports have been functional. The airport may have been affected in terms of international flights which has stopped but the regular ports transactions in the seaports have been going on, hence we are still operating within the same revenue income range.
“Before the Advent of corona virus, the land borders were partially closed to movement of goods, so, that in a way has also helped Nigerians because that action motivated so many Nigerians to go back to farm.”
With respect to customs recruitment, Attah said,
“The customs of today is not the custom that can be manipulated. It is a service that is driven by integrity and therefore not afraid to take bold decisions.
“I want to say without fear of contradiction that you can only get into customs today strictly based on merit.
“Our processes are online and automated. We advertise, invite people for examination, to ensure integrity and transparency, we give the questions to Jamb. “People go to Jamb to do their aptitude test. After the test, it is Jamb that gives the electronic print out. It is not something you can tamper with. “Next is to look at the level of performance and score them. When considering their performance, we take from the top, then they’re invited for interview.
“We were about to invite people for interview before the lockdown and that is why the process is on hold.
“When we recruit, they normally go through examination, physical interview, if the candidate meets all the requirements, he is then documented and given a service number to proceed to the training college.”
He said at the training college they would be drilled for six months in rigorous training before they pass out.
“Then they posted to your station. After some years, they would be called for refresher or specialized courses which is done for about three months.”
Attah also stressed the importance of collective efforts in curbing security challenges in the country.
He further admonished Nigerians to love one another and not to compromise their loyalty to the country in fight against insecurity.
When asked to rate the Nigerian customs compared to other customs in the world, Attah responded,
“I do know that we are doing the best we can given our situation. I do know that in the global custom community, they refer to us, over our examplary role.
“I also do know that in the West and Central Africa, we are leaders and that is why they look up to us for direction, for advice, that is why they come to Nigeria for training.
“We have the regional training center for customs of the West and Central Africa, that clearly demonstrates our leadership role in the sub-region.

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Humanitarian ministry insists States hoarded palliatives

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Humanitarian ministry insists States hoarded palliatives

The minister of Humanitathas denied having any link with hoarded palliatives meant for distribution to the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic by many states as she restated that all palliatives donated to the ministry were distributed accordingly.
The minister made the disclosure on Monday during a national Press conference in Abuja on the activities of the ministry since inception.
She said, “Recently, the world witnessed the unfortunate incidence of looting of palliatives and relief materials stashed away in warehouses in some states of the country during the #EndSars protest.

“As the Minister of
Humanitarian Affairs, I want to categorically state that the Palliatives
donated to the Ministry by the Nigerian Customs Services, National
Strategic Grain Reserve, and many good willing donors were handed to
State officials for onward distribution to the poor and vulnerable in thier
states.

“The Ministry identifies its strategic role and impact in the everyday lives of the Nigerian. We want to assure the public that we are on ground working every day for Nigerians.”

She expressed satisfaction with the success story of one of the Federal Government’s Investment programs, the N-POWER as 109, 823 benefitiaries have successfully started their own businesses

According to her, “After the two-year period, facts and reports show that some of the
beneficiaries of Batch A and Batch B of the programme have established
businesses in their communities, with no fewer than 109,823
beneficiaries of the N-Power Programme who have identified themselves
as business owners.

According to her, “Current Enrolment Status of beneficiaries for N-power Batch C closed in July 2020 and we have received over 5 Million applications since the portal opened.
“The application process will be concluded as soon as possible to provide additional Nigerian youths access to the programme.
“At this juncture, I want to officially announce that the Central Bank of
Nigeria in collaboration with the Ministry has developed a portal to
enable the exited N-Power beneficiaries to log on and apply for the
various economic empowerment and entrepreneurship options provided by the Central Bank such as the AGSMEIS loan and the AnchorBorrowers Program (ABP). “Interested N-Power exited beneficiaries
should log on to the CBN portal for more information.
The website portal is nexit-fmhds.cbn.gov.ng as displayed on the screen.

Farouq also refuted the claim that her ministry has been feeding the Internally Displaced persons with poor nutritious food saying the Ministry has been making different grains available and also allow other bodies who make donations of their choice which the Ministry cannot restrict or limit.

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FG mulls reversal of Fuel price (PMS) as organized labour mounts pressure

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FG mulls reversal of Fuel price (PMS) as organized labour mounts pressure

The Federal Government may be planning to reverse the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N160 per litre if the pressure being mounted by the organised Labour on the Federal Government is fruitful.

At the end of the resumed negotiations between government and the labour movement Friday night, the Federal Government indicated willingness to consult widely with the view to reviewing the price downward.

The indication shows that   the new price might be unveiled at the resumed meeting slated for December 7.
The Federal Government said the period between now and then would allow it embark on a wide range consultation over Labour’s request.
Labour had insisted that the pump price must be reviewed downward to N160 before negotiations can proceed on the hike in electricity tariffs and deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who disclosed this at the end of the latest meeting between the Federal Government and organised Labour on the recent increases in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, added that the meeting agreed to let the government side consult with their principal and every relevant authority on the request of the Labour
He stated: “The message from the organised Labour is clear; they want a reversal of the pump price of PMS. The parties have agreed to let the government side consult their principal on that. We will consult the President, minister of Petroleum and the Economic Management Team.”
The minister noted that though it was no longer the responsibility of government to fix the pump price of PMS as it had been deregulated, the matter still fell within the realm of the economy.
On the issue of the electricity tariff, Ngige said the committee working on it, headed by the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, already had an interim report and would use the opportunity created by the adjournment of the meeting to undertake field visits to the different Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Nigeria and come back with a more comprehensive report.

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

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INEC chair: Lawan denies taking N2b bribe to confirm Yakubu

By James Ojochegbe

The president of the senate Ahmad Lawan has denied collecting any gratification of N2b to facilitate the confirmation of the INEC chairman as alleged by an online publication.

This contained in a Statement issued in Abuja by his special Adviser on media Ola Awoniyi.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Office of the Senate President has been drawn to a report by SaharaReporters alleging that a group led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, collected N2billion from Professor Mahmood Yakubu to facilitate the confirmation of his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to a fresh five-year tenure as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“It is noteworthy that the publication, as always with its ridiculous fabricated reports, could not even expand the entertainment of its readers by providing the names of members of the fictitious group and where the group operates from.
“To be sure, that group exists only in the mischievious imagination of the writer of the fiction.”
The Statement enjoined Nigerians to ignore the report as yet another incident of hallucination by the comical characters operating the fabricated news platform.

“The online medium has long earmed its notoriety as a purveyor of fake news with high profile public officials as its targets. 
“It is well known that only the President can nominate a candidate for appointment or reappointment as Chairman of INEC.
And only the Senate as a body can confirm or reject the appointment, after due screening of the candidate.
“The parliamentary process for the confirmation of nominations by the President is open and involves all distinguished senators.
“The Senate President is only a presiding officer of the Senate and does not lead any group in or outside the august chamber that acts in any way to circumvent the processes of the Senate. “We reassure Nigerians that the Senate President did not receive any gratification, in his or behalf of others, to help Professor Yakubu get a second term as chairman of INEC.”

He challenged SaharaReporters and the sponsors of the false publication to provide whatever evidence that they can in support of their glib claims, failing which Nigerians should dismiss the report as another cheap blackmail from a platform that has no reputation for credible reportage and ethical journalism practise.”

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