The Rivers State chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), has debunked alleged malpractices at the Onne and Rivers Ports Customs Command, describing the accusations made by the Coalition of Civil Society For Transparency And Accountability as baseless.
ANCLA which spoke through its Assistant National Secretary, Chief Dennis Okwu in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, also described the coalition as a faceless organization, maintaining that the video of the alleged corrupt practices at the Customs Command which had gone viral, is not authentic and cannot be proven yet.
Okwu said the fact that the group listed textile materials and stockfish as contrabands made their claims spurious, expressing anger that a faceless organization without any office location would make such allegations.
Okwu who spoke to maritime journalists in Port Harcourt, said the Customs was not the only security agency at the ports, explaining that before any release of imported goods, other agencies working with the Customs must be satisfied with the examination of the container.
The only difference, according to Okwu, is that the Customs makes sure that the acceptable value of goods are paid according to extant laws with the sole aim to generate revenue, facilitate trade and ascertain compliance on fiscal policy of the federal government.
“The Customs makes sure importers and exporters don’t circumvent documentation processes through concealment, wrong classification and underpayment,” he said, adding that people making such baseless and unfounded allegations don’t even know what contraband is all about.
He asked any groups making unfounded allegations against operations at the ports to come out in the open instead of hiding under the social media such as Facebook to malign the good reputation of the Customs Zone, Command of Onne and Port Harcourt ports.
He was quick to score the O.C FOT, Gate Deputy Comptroller Ibrahim Ali, high for his seamless cargo documentation and fastrack clearance at the FOT Gate in line with standards and international best practices, insisting that those casting aspersions on him are those agents who do not want to do the right thing.
He said with what Deputy Comptroller Ali had done at Onne, he can go home and sleep, noting that his compliance and performance at the gate has changed a lot of things while maintaining that before Ali took over, a lot of bad things were going on.
Okwu then called on all the relevant stakeholders to close ranks and give the Nigerian Customs Service the needed and necessary support to achieve their set mandates and goals.