FRESH ANXIETY OVER COMPTROLLER-GENERAL OF CUSTOMS; ABDULLAHI DIKKO’S JOB – A MERE SPECULATIVE JOURNALISM

August 18, 2014

 

The President

Maritime Reporters Association of

Nigeria (MARAN)

Development Building

Wharf Road

Apapa Lagos.

 

Dear Sir,

 

FRESH ANXIETY OVER COMPTROLLER-GENERAL OF CUSTOMS; ABDULLAHI DIKKO’S JOB – A MERE SPECULATIVE JOURNALISM

 It is very sad that most of the Resident Reporters in our seaports, airports and border stations spend their precious time writing about the removal or continued stay in office of some Government officials e.g. the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) instead of engaging themselves in issues that will help the advancement of our international trade and ports administration.

The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) as a critical stakeholder in the maritime trade and transportation is really surprised over the ongoing distractions to the officials of the Government by the Resident Reporters who tend to create undue tension, suspicion and enmity within the Agency personnel’s.

With particular reference to the Nigeria Customs Service it is a fact that Customs officers are civil servants governed by the civil service rules and regulations.  It is on record that the tenureship of civil servants is either 35 years in Service or 60 years of age whichever comes first.  It is also a fact that it is only Mr. President that can determine any change in this regard if an office holder is not found guilty of an offense and/or a gross misconduct that may lead to termination or dismissal from office.  It is also a fact that Dikko is not a contract staff of the Nigeria Customs Service.

In the particular case of the CGC, the truth remains that he is yet to reach 35 years in Service or 60 years of age and he has not been found guilty of any offence against Civil Service rules or Customs law.  It is our view in NAGAFF that should any person have information about the administration of the current Comptroller-General, such a person should write to the appropriate authority for investigation and necessary action.  It is an ambulance chasing for the past five years on the part of some Resident Reporters.

Therefore those who may have one grouse or the other over the success of the Dikko-led administration should follow the due process of raising issues rather than speculative reporting and thereby causing undue distraction in our port system.

Our Resident Reporters may wish to channel their energies to addressing frivolous port charges, access roads repairs, truck terminal parks, inland containers, non compliant attitude to rules, corruption in the system, inland water transportation, rail system, support for commercial regulations in our ports, sustainable freight business, cabotage regulations and its derivatives, transport policy in Nigeria, etc instead of engaging in mercenary work based on pecuniary interest.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is at the epicenter of all intelligence gathering and it is his duty to act when it is necessary.  It is also very important to note that the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy is known for humility and courage to say things as they are without fear or favour.  Those who may have chosen to be her mouth piece or that of Mr. President should hold their peace because both of them are courageous leaders with the capacity to address the nation in any matter of National interest.

The point herein canvassed is to state clearly from our vantage point that the Dikko administration has done so well in the area of revenue collection, anti-smuggling function, trade facilitation, post audit function, international collaboration, capacity building and training, infrastructural development and ICT compliance.

It is sad to note that most Nigerians and our Resident Reporters may not have realized that this young man, Dikko, and his administration struggled with their last breath to dislodge the service providers from undertaking Destination Inspection in Nigeria. We thank Mr. President for his patriotism and statesmanship.  Well over 2.4 Billion Dollars may have been paid to the Service Providers in the past 8 years and yet young Nigerian graduates are roaming the streets in search of gainful employment.

We believe no one should distract the attention of the CGC from his laudable programmes.  However, what we think should attract the attention of the CGC at the moment is the divide between CEMA and CRFFN.  There is the urgent need to harmonize the relevance and operations of these two legislative instruments to achieve professionalism and compliance level on the part of freight agents and shippers in the Customs ports and approved border stations.

We also will want the management team of the NCS to increase their efforts in lobbying the National Assembly and the Presidency with a view to ushering in a new Customs law that seeks to grant partial autonomy in Customs administration.  Whereas we appreciate the Constitutional provisions as enshrined in our law to make expressions, there is the urgent need for some of us to understand that there are limitations on matters of Government revenue.  The action of some of the Resident Reporters could be viewed as an obstruction to the lawful duty of an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service.

For the avoidance of doubt, a visit to Section 11 of the Customs law, shows that it emphasized on matters of obstruction of officers.

(a)        If any person obstructs, hinders, molests or assaults any person duly engaged in the performance of any duty or the exercise of any power imposed or conferred on him by the Customs and excise laws, or any person acting in his aid, he shall be liable to a fine of One Thousand Naira (N1,000) or to imprisonment for two years or to both.

The operating word any person does not exclude a Resident Reporter who by his/her action may be causing an obstruction to the smooth administration and management of Customs law.

The ongoing and sustained speculative journalism by some Resident Reporters in our maritime trade and Customs facilitation is becoming an obvious obstruction and distraction to the management team of the Customs in the course of their legitimate duty. It is therefore our advice that the leadership of the various Maritime Reporters Associations should encourage their members to abide by professional ethics and as well imbibe the principles of investigative journalism than the present state of practice in our port functions.

May we note that whatever may affect Customs operations has direct impact on our profession as could be seen from Sections 153 – 156 of CEMA.  It is also observed in Section 19 (a & b) of CRFFN Act in that regard.  The tenureship of Dikko is not the problem in our port system but a system/institutional failure in our society.  This young man has done so well and we should appreciate him.  We do hope that we will all join Mr. President in his transformation programme in Nigeria.  An intelligent reporter should have known that Government do not succumb to coercive force or blackmail against its personnels.

This is a divine message from the headquarters of NAGAFF to all who may have formed the habit of distracting Government functionaries.  It is our duty to support and pray for all our leaders so that they can serve us with all their heart.  Godbless.

 

PRINCE OBUMS ANENE

Deputy National President Seaports        

NAGAFF Headquarters

 

CC:    Government Authorities

            Maritime Media Associations/Practitioners

            Freight Associations

One Response to FRESH ANXIETY OVER COMPTROLLER-GENERAL OF CUSTOMS; ABDULLAHI DIKKO’S JOB – A MERE SPECULATIVE JOURNALISM

  1. Okey Nerus says:

    Thumbs up NAGAFF.

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