• There is nothing like that, says Customs
The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), has criticised the planned concession of scanning machines at the port to foreigners.
Vice-President, ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, in a chart with journalists bemoaned the continuing 100 per cent cargo examination that enables under-declaration of cargoes and importation of contrabands into the country.
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the procurement of the scanning machines, he said there are insinuations that foreigners are lobbying for contract to operate the scanners.
But when contacted, the NCS spokesman, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah, debunked the insinuations, claiming he was not aware of such.He said: “The management of ANLCA just rose from a meeting with the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, at the headquarters in Abuja a few hours ago (Thursday).
They asked a series of questions from Customs management on all issues, but they never mentioned anything of such.” Farinto, speaking on the issue, urged the Federal Government to look at the issue critically on three grounds – security, morality, and the Nigerian economy.
On security, he said it would be too dangerous to leave the scanning machines in the hands of foreigners. “I remember some years back when some arms and ammunition were discovered in Nigeria. It was narrowed down to some foreigners.
“If you allow foreigners to man our machines, the security implication is not too good for Nigeria as a country.”
He instead advised that some Customs officers be trained on how to operate the scanners, because they are trained to read image analysis and able to know if there are any discrepancies during cargo clearance.
He however conceded that technical issues such as maintenance services can be ceded out in the absence of qualified indigenous engineers.
Besides, he added, contracting foreigners to man the scanners would lead to capital flight from the economy, as, “A percentage of money was to be given back to Customs annually in whatever they generate.
“I also know that one per cent is supposed to be given back to the Nigerian Customs. But when you now bring in experts from abroad, definitely, the one per cent will go to them.
“Don’t forget these people will want to repatriate the money to their countries, which does not do our economy any good, not even now that we have COVID-19.
“But if you’re giving it to Customs, they can employ and do what we call moral boosting, by increasing the salary of the officers,” he said.