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Farinto tackles Customs over attempt to demonise victim of Mile- 2 shooting —-claims trigger- happy officer under influence of drug


Eyewitness reporter

The fiery Vice-President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, has condemned what he described as a vain attempt by the Nigeria Customs Service to demonise one Adeyemi Quadri, the young freight forwarder, who was shot in the leg by a member of the roving team of the Federal Operation Unit(FOU) on Mile 2 road.

Farinto, who is also the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment Nigeria Limited, claimed that the Customs resorted to this unorthodox method in a bid to hush up the unfortunate incident that could have claimed the life of the  Customs broker.

Speaking in his office yesterday, Farinto said it behooves him as a senior stakeholder in the industry and in his personal capacity as a licensed customs broker to speak up and expose the antics of Customs in its attempt to sweep the incident under the carpet after all his efforts to settle the matter amicably has been rebuffed by the Customs.

It could be recalled that on March 17th, 2021, there was a shooting incident at the Mile -2 axis of Tin Can port where an officer in the Roving team of the FOU shot and fatally wounded a Customs broker over  a dispute on 2019 RAV4 Toyota SUV.

The incident generated a spat between the Customs authority, who claimed that the victim was trying to resist and obstruct the officer in his duty of arresting the vehicle which the Customs claimed fell foul of standard clearing procedure.

After the tensed atmosphere generated between the Customs and the confraternity of freight forwarders, the Customs authority, through its National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Attah, in an interview with an online medium, declared that the victim of the incident was not a registered Customs broker but a tout who mobilised a mob in an attempt to overrun the officer to dispossess him of his gun, hinting at possible prosecution of the victim.

However, Farinto declared that nothing could be further from the truth the allegation raised by the National spokesman of the Customs which he said should not be allowed to stand if justice will be done in the case.

He challenged the Customs PRO to provide proof of his claims that the shot victim was not a Customs broker but a tout.

“Am speaking as the Managing Director of Wealthy Honey Investment Nig. Limited and a senior stakeholder in the industry and a licensed customs broker.

‘I read the statement made by DC Attah, the National PRO of Customs on the unfortunate incident at Mile Two where one of our members was shot and i can say that he goofed.
”He goofed in the sense that his statement was misleading Nigerians to believe that what happened at mile two was as a result of miscreants who attempted  to take the gun of the officer.

“I challenge him to provide the proof of his allegations.
As a stakeholder and genuine agent, the onus is on me to let the world know the true position of the incident.

”What happened was that a customs agent, having followed the due process of clearance procedure,  applied for valuation on 2019 RAV4 Toyota model and the vehicle was valued at over $12,000 with the surface duty of N1.7 million and other charges which amounted to N2.345million, which he duly paid.

‘After this, the vehicle was duly released and he took delivery of it and drove it out of the port.

‘At a point along the Mile two road, he was accosted in a commando style by one of the members of the roving team of FOU.
‘One of the team members, whom we suspected was not in a stable mind, shot the agent.

“This will take me to the issue of who is a customs broker.
Section 150 of CEMA empowers the Customs board to register us as clearing firms, but we can delegate functions and duties to our staff.

“This was what happened to the agent who was shot .He was working with a licensed Customs brokage firm and that made his a genuine customs broker unlike  what Attah wanted the world to know.

‘But instead of Customs to come openly and apologise that what happened was a mistake, what they now did was to label him as miscreant and tout who is not a freight forwarder.

”This was an attempt to call a dog a bad name before they hang him but I disagree and challenge Attah to prove it” Farinto fumed with flaming fury.

‘Under CEMA, there is what is called precarious liability which means that whatever any of the staff does, the owner of the license under whose the staff operates will be held liable.
”This particular staff paid all the duty accrued to the government.
”We shall not accept the attempt by the Customs to label the agent as a miscreant”, he declared.

Farinto, who was brandishing  a sheaf of document for the payment of necessary duties by the wounded agent, declared that the clearance of the vehicle followed due process as all the duties and charges as assessed by competent Customs officer, were fully paid and the vehicle legally exited.

According to the sheaf of document that was made available to our reporter, the Vehicle, a RAV4 Toyota 2019 model was valued at $12,748 with surface duty of N1,700 ,080.00 using an exchange rate of N381 to a dollar and 35 per cent rate of duty and HS Code 8703.

The valuation officer, according to the Nigeria Customs Service Valuation Assessment Form, who duly examined, assessed and duly released the vehicle, was one Nwankwo, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs with service Number 4115, signed and dated the form March 15th, 2021.

In the Assessment notice by the Customs, the surface duty and other charges assessed and duly paid was N2,345,929.00

The break down of the assessment and payment include N1,700,080.00 as surface duty, N119,006.00 as surcharge, N24,287.00 as ETLS and N502,556.00 as VAT.

The total amount assessed and paid was N2,345,929.00

The declarant with C no 4814RC143708, was Rightful Soil Nigeria Limited while the Company name is Cajetan Egbufoama 24490638-0001.

The declarant paid the full duty in cash with receipt number R-44559 and dated 16/03/2021 at GTB.

The assessment Notice carries C44053 dated 16/03/2021 as Customs reference while declarant reference was 2021/ESHE with assessment reference A 44908 16/03/2021

Farinto, said having paid all the necessary duty and charges, the FOU roving team had no justification to accost the agent and even shot him.

He accused the Customs of hiding under the absence of uniform tariffs on vehicles which he alleged they used to harass and extort agents.

He claimed that all attempts by the ANLCA to prevail on the Customs to take a cue from their counterparts in Ghana who use uniform tariffs on vehicles proved abortive.

He accused the officers of frustrating the process of harmonised tariff on vehicles for their selfish interests.

”I have on several occasions begged the Customs authority to give us uniform tariff on vehicles
”Nigerians need to know that for instance, a tariff on 2019 Camry differs at Tin Can, Apapa and PTML. They pay different values because of the arbitrariness of duty.

”We have received many complaints from our members over the extortion and arbitrariness of tariff on vehicles and asked the Customs to take a cue from Ghana where we even offered to sponsor officers of the service to go and understudy their system.

”In Ghana, your VIN number is imputed into the system which will give all the details on the vehicles such as year of manufacture, mileage on the odometer. With that, your vehicle will be valued. You cant lie.

”But here in Nigeria, they prefer arbitrary imposition of tariff.

”I have it on good authority that the CGC has directed that there must be uniformity of value but this has not been implemented.

”We are tired of arbitrary value, we are tired of giving bribes.”, the ANLCA Chieftain declared.

He said that it was inhuman and callous by Customs  to label the young agent who was shot as a miscreant.

”The officers act with impunity and feel they can get away with anything they do.

”But not this time around because we are going to fight and get justice for the innocent and unarmed agent who was brutalised and shot by an officer we strongly suspected was not in a stable mind.

” The officer who pulled the trigger was psychologically unstable”
”From our own investigations, we found out that this particular officer has been living on psychotropic substance.
”You recalled one junior officer sometime ago who declared himself as the CGC. This incident has been hushed up.
”I challenge the Customs to bring out the officer who shot our colleague and subject him to psychiatric analysis and clinical examination.

‘Nigerians will be surprised at the level of psychotropic substance in his system.

”When the agent was shot, this particular officer was even threatening to give him water so he could die.

”There is no sensible officer with weapon who will say that. We are not at war.
Am challenging the customs to parade this officer and subject him to necessary examination to determine his state of mind.

‘This brings me to the disturbing issue of the state of mind of these  Customs officers with guns”Farinto declared.

He appealed to the general public, especially the civil society groups, to rise up and help the wounded Customs broker get justice.

However, investigation by our reporter revealed that, while the Lagos FOU authority gave the wounded agent N200,000 in two tranches(N100, 000 by the Comptroller of Lagos FOU and another N100,000 by the leader of the Roving team) to off-set his hospital bill, the disputed Vehicle is still in the Lagos FOU detention, almost a month after the incident.

It was gathered that the Unit has slammed a DN of N3.5million on the vehicle as they alleged that the duty paid by the importer was a “compromised duty”

Farinto however disagreed with the position of the FOU which he described as an attempt to safe their face as there was no such thing as a compromised duty in CEMA.

He queried the competence of the FOU officers on assessment and valuation even as he declared that the unit was set up not to collect revenue but to act as the police of the Customs.

”The best the FOU officers, who are not trained in assessment and valuation, could do under such circumstance, was to return back to the releasing ports any consignment suspected of infraction in payment of duty”

He said that it was left for the importer if he would pay the DN which he described as arbitrary, illegal and inhuman but hinted that the matter could be taken to court which is the final arbiter in a dispute of this nature.

He accused the FOU customs of an attempt to whisk away the wounded agent while he was still recuperating at the hospital to an unknown place but ” i frustrated their move when i quickly moved the injured freight forwarder away before the Customs could carry out their plan”


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House of Reps gives NIMASA green light to disburse CVFF –appoints audit firm to coordinate, monitor  disbursement

Hon. Legor Idagbo
The eyewitness reporter
The House of Representatives has given the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) a clean bill of health over the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds(CVFF) and consequently directed the agency to disburse the funds.
It would be recalled that the lawmakers, a few weeks ago, halted the planned disbursement after long and painstaking groundwork made by the Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA towards the disbursement process.
The House had raised concerns over the funds, said to be about #700m, and decided to ask its committee on Nigerian Contents Development and Monitoring to investigate the funds.
This followed a motion during its sitting last month on the matter and subsequently directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop the planned disbursement of the fund.
However, after concluding its investigation, the House found tenable the need to disburse the funds to the eligible indigenous ship owners.
Addressing journalists in Abuja Thursday, the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Legor Idagbo said that its investigations indicated that due process was followed, informing that the disbursement can now be made.
“The House of Representatives at its sitting on Tuesday, 4 May 2023, deliberated on a motion on the Planned Disbursement of $700 Million Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund, and investigate the Total Accrual of the Fund, and referred same to the House Committee on Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring to, amongst other resolutions, investigate and urge the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to immediately stop the planned disbursement of $700 million to Nigerian citizens and companies and to lay before the floor of the House, an audited statement of account showing all monies that have accrued to the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund not later than fourteen (14) days from the date of this resolution.
“The Committee requested the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Ministry of Transportation to provide detailed information on the total amount accrued to the Fund and disbursements since inception.
“The Committee met with the Minister of Transportation and the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ({NIMASA) on Thursday, 11 May 2023 to find out about the details concerning the matter.
” After a thorough analysis of the various submissions on the matter coupled with the explanations given by the Ministry and NIMASA, the Committee discovered that due process was followed in the planned disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund.
“The Committee notes that the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) is a fund that was set up in 2003 by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act.
” The Fund was established for the purpose of developing indigenous ship acquisition capacity, and to provide financial assistance to indigenous shipping operators.
“The Committee further notes that there is a lack of Capacity amongst indigenous/ Domestic Coastal operators in Nigeria, thus the reason Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPC) still awards contracts to foreign shipping Companies in contravention of the Cabotage and Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.
“Some of these awards have been previously investigated by the Committee which led to their cancellation.
“It was also discovered that the total funds of $360m in the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) represents 50%, while the remaining counterpart funds of 50% is from stakeholders and Banks which is 15% and 35% respectively.
“NIMASA should go ahead with the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) in compliance with the extant laws and laid down guidelines for the said disbursement.
“To ensure the disbursement does not violate any of the extant laws made by the National Assembly, the following persons were nominated to supervise the disbursement process:
“Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Legor Idagbo  – Chairman ii. Hon. Henry Nwawuba – Member iii. | Mrs. Kehinde Bolade Olaiya – Committee Clerk.
“An Audit firm, Stratford Hill and Co. was appointed by the committee as the coordinating enforcement auditor for the CVFF.
“The Committee applauds NNPC for its commitment to awarding the shipping contracts to indigenous companies that have built capacity to the level where they can successfully execute these contracts.
“The Committee is grateful to the leadership of the House for the confidence bestowed on it to carry out the investigation”.
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President Tinubu appoints Gbajabiamila Chief of Staff

Gbajabiamila , Tinubu
 President Bola Tinubu has appointed Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as his Chief of Staff.

An authoritative source in the Presidency confirmed the development on Thursday.

The source said the president finally made the decision after wide consultations on the contending candidates.

Gbajabiamila has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2012 and has just been re-elected to the House in the last elections.

The choice of Gbajabiamila by the president is not a surprise to many political pundits as he has been a very close ally to the president.

They are part of the brains behind the formation of the All-Progressives Party (APC).

He will now have to forgo his seat in the House of Representatives if he accepts the appointment.

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila CFR, is a Nigerian lawyer and foundation member of the APC.

He has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2019.

Gbajabiamila was born in Lagos in 1962 and attended Igbobi College for his secondary education and the University of Lagos as part of his education.

He is married to Salamatu Gbajabiamila.

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Maritime media, NUJ mourn as Ray Ugochukwu passes on to glory

Ray Ugochukwu
The eyewitness reporter
The media confraternity of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council and the maritime media, was thrown into a deep shock and mourning Thursday at the sudden demise of Mr Ray Ugochukwu, a crack journalist of international repute.
The entire members of the NUJ and the maritime media, his immediate constituency, received the news of his death, which was broken by Mr Leye Ajayi, the Chairman of the NUJ Lagos council, in a terse message posted on the council’s WhatsApp platform, with mixed emotion of sadness, shock and disbelief.
Shell-shocked, most colleagues of the deceased, who thought the announcement was a joke taken too far, make frantic calls to the NUJ council officials who confirmed the unfortunate incident.
As the rude reality of the death of the erudite maritime journalist sank in, many of them paid glowing tributes to the man widely regarded as the encyclopedia of the maritime press and a repository of wise sayings.
In its statement on the death of Mr Ugochukwu, Leye Ajayi eulogised the huge reportorial qualities of the deceased who has practised journalism for over 30 years
“With heavy hearts, we mourn the death of a media giant, a versatile Unionist and a brilliant journalist, Mr Ray Ugochukwu who passed on on Thursday.

“The death of Ray came as a big shock to the union.

“We are going to miss his courageous attributes and mentorship.

“He was also one of the pillars of the Lagos Council of NUJ and served the union meritoriously in his capacities as the Chairman of, the Seminar Committee; and as a Member, the Committee on Milestone Recognition of Media Icons In Nigeria.

“He spent most of his life in ensuring the advancement of Maritime Reporting as well as the welfare of Journalists.

“He worked in several media houses.

“Among his giant strides, he was a former President of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN); President, Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN); and a former Chairman of the Daily Times Chapel of NUJ.

“The legacies of Ray are indelible and will exist forever.

“May God grant his soul eternal rest” the Lagos NUJ said in a statement signed by Leye Ajayi, the Council Chairman and Tunde Olalere, the Council Secretary.

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