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NPA denies operating secret, unapproved foreign accounts

Bello-Koko, NPA MD

 

Eyewitness reporter

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has dismissed a report that it operates two secret foreign accounts, saying it only operates two USD-denominated domiciliary accounts that were approved by the Federal Government.

It said its management runs transparent operations and gives a premium to due process in the execution of its core mandates.

In a statement by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Nasiru Ibrahim,
the compelling need to set the records straight and disabuse the minds of the public informed its response to the claim.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has been drawn to a media report, suggesting that the Authority operates two secret accounts outside Nigeria, which have been allegedly looted.

“Contrary to their claims in the apparently sponsored report, which are both false and malicious, the NPA operates two USD-denominated domiciliary accounts that were approved by the Federal Government and transparently run, in accordance with agreed official safeguards emplaced by the Office of the Accountant General through the CBN and the TSA policy of the Federal government of Nigeria against possible infractions and looting.

“While the NPA management’s initial disposition was to dismiss the news report with a wave of the hand, the compelling need to set the records straight and disabuse the minds of well-meaning and unsuspecting members of the various publics on the subject matter assumed prime consideration.

“Therefore, the Management hereby states as follows:

“That a request for approval to open two accounts for the collection of service boats pilotage revenue was made to the Accountant General of the Federation in a letter dated August 26, 2016.

“That the OAGF approved the opening of the accounts which were to be opened in Zenith Bank and Fidelity Bank with their correspondent foreign banks as Citibank N.A in London and New York respectively for the purposes of collecting service boats pilotage revenue accruing to the NPA.

“That as of the time the request for approval was made, the class of revenue was being collected by Integrated Logistics Services Limited (INTELS) on behalf of the NPA from inception of the managing agent relationship which dates back to 1996.

“That there was a management agency relationship between INTELS and the NPA which gave INTELS the responsibility to monitor service boat operations and collect revenue from such operations on behalf of the NPA at an agreed commission.

“That both NPA & INTELS rely on the provision in the executed agreement to have access to view the inflow into the accounts for ease of reconciliation and to enable it to determine online real-time amounts paid by clients and the value of the invoice to send to  the NPA for payment of their management services;

“That on a monthly basis, there were hundreds of payments for service boat operations that make payments directly into INTELS bank account.

“That on a periodic basis, INTELS remitted a portion of the revenue collected to the NPA and retained a significant portion in its vault, comprising commission on the collection of revenue and cost of Onne phase 4B expansion project through amortization.

“That the Management of the NPA considered this practice as being completely at variance with the requirements of Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of Government, which made it mandatory that all revenues accruing to all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must be remitted into one consolidated TSA account in the Central bank of Nigeria.

“That Management conducted a thorough review of the executed management agency agreement it entered into with INTELS and felt the urgent need to open revenue accounts dedicated to the collection of revenue from service boat operations based on certain parameters.

“The parameters included, among others: to ensure that Government revenues no longer reside in the vaults of private operators or companies; to ensure seamless reconciliation of revenue collection from service boat operations as there were hundreds of entries per month; to enthrone accountability and transparency in the management of revenue generation and collection from service boat operations; to enhance prompt reconciliation of service boat revenue generation and collection, which will facilitate prompt payment of agency commission by the  Authority to INTELS in a transparent manner; and the prompt remittance of the net revenue after deduction of agency commission into the Authority’s TSA sub-account in the CBN.

“The Management also wishes to state that all the supposed assertions and innuendos in the news report as regards secrecy and diversion of funds in the accounts are nothing but spurious and laughable concoctions and disingenuous misinformation about happenings in the NPA in the fertile imaginations of the author of the unconscionable report.

For the avoidance of doubt, the “Management states categorically that there was no how the funds in the accounts could have been secretly diverted or privatized as significant safeguards had been put in place by the Federal Government.

“In a February 13, 2017 letter of approval from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for the opening of the accounts for the collection of service boats pilotage revenue, operational modalities were approved, to wit:

” That the NPA will operate collection accounts only with two commercial banks to be designated as “Transit Account.

” That balances in these Accounts will be swept daily into the designated Treasury Single Account (TSA) Revenue Sub-Accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or as mutually agreed by all parties;

“That on no account should withdrawals be made from these Revenue Accounts;

“That participatory Banks and INTELS will write formally to the NPA to demand their collection charges on monthly basis or as may have been agreed with them;

“That the NPA, upon due confirmation, reconciliation and necessary due diligence, will forward the request to the Office of the Account General of the Federation for payment to parties; and,

“That in case of further clarifications on this matter, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation should be contacted, accordingly.

“Besides, there were additional checks mechanisms put in place with the Banks to provide internet banking for the service boat revenue collection to enable “view-only” and printing capabilities of the statements of accounts by over twenty top management staff members of the NPA.

“With the explanations supra, the Management hereby wishes to state that the specious report about two persons looting the NPA’s so-called secret accounts could not have been possible.

“We, therefore, wish to state that the current NPA management under the leadership of the Managing Director, Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, is only aware of the approved USD-denominated domiciliary accounts as stated above and not aware of secret foreign accounts as indicated in the malicious online newspaper report.

“The NPA Management runs an open administration and gives premium to due process in the execution of its core mandates.

“We, therefore, wish to urge Nigerians to take note of the Management’s commitment to transparency in its financial transactions.”

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Customs

Tin Can Customs nets N574.3 billion in 2022 —–records N242.365 billion in exports

The Eyewitness reporter
The  Tin Can Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has realized a sum of N574.3 billion in 2022.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Comptroller Olakunle Oloyede, disclosed this at a news conference at weekend.

Oloyede said the figure represented an increase of N80.90 billion or 16.39 percent when compared with N493.4 billion recorded in 2021.

“This feat can be attributed to the constant rejigging of the existing measures geared toward sustaining the command’s revenue profile.

“It is as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as: periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation,” he said.

He noted that the command also ensured robust and continuous stakeholder engagements and collaborations with all sister government agencies and maritime associations.

“These led to timely intelligence sharing, utilisation and voluntary compliance to government’s extant laws by the trading public,” Oloyede said.

He added that the command increased surveillance on declarations made in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items.

He pointed out that the system paid off with the command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.85 billion.

“These seizures comprise 763kgs of Colorado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.6 million only as given by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5,060 pieces).

“Also among seized items are 1,150 bales of second-hand clothing, 1,190 cartons of 20 per carton of potassium bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1,200 per carton Pharmacol injection chloroquine phosphate 322.5mg.5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished machetes.

“Also, 1,383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2,666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter Ex-Premium Inverter Battery, 1,980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1,048 cartons of Tilda basmati rice,” he said.

Oloyede listed others as 2,594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, six Mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types.

He said that the seizures when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a Debit Note of N607.27 only, show an increase of 11 seizures and N1.24 billion.

He said that the increase in the DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, the high value of seized items and Naira depreciation that led to higher exchange rates on imported items.

“These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the provision of Sections 46 and 161 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022- 2026.

“The command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, Federal Operations Unit, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made.

“A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the command has 8 cases pending in court,” he said.

Oloyede said the command recorded a significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589,696,648 (N242,365,322,333.00) as against the $496,075,796 (N141,985,109,159.00) recorded in 2021.

He attributed the increase of 34.4 percent in the FOB to the high quality and value of exported commodities.

“However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986.8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022.

“The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current government fiscal policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrest with its concomitant economic challenges,” he said

He listed the commodities exported through the command to include: cocoa beans, insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminum ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items.

“Cocoa beans were the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity.

“The future of export in the command looks brighter as the command in line with the headquarter circular on Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command’s harmonised SOP for the seamless facilitation of Export Trade in strict compliance with Extant Laws and guidelines on Export,” he said.

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Economy

CBN succumbs  to pressure, extends use of old naira notes to February 10

The Eyewitness reporter
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally caved in to Public outcry over the February 1st deadline for the use of old naira notes when on Sunday, the apex bank announced February 10 as the new date.
Announcing the new deadline in a statement, Governor Central Bank Of Nigeria(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the decision to add extra 10 days was “to allow for the collection of more old notes”

Up till Saturday, CBN had insisted on the 31st January deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 despite overwhelming complaints that the notes are either not available or in short supply in the banks or their Automated Teller Machines.

Last October, Emefiele announced the Naira redesign policy which entails the issuance of new notes to replace the existing N200, N500 and N1,000 series.

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Customs

”No container will leave Apapa Port without 100 percent physical examination”

 

declares Auwal Mohammed as he takes over as new Apapa Customs Area controller

—promises to surpass N1 trillion revenue mark

—vows not to facilitate non-compliant traders

 

The Eyewitness reporter

Despite the deployment of cargo scanning machines, the new area comptroller of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, has vowed that no container shall leave the Apapa port without a 100 percent physical examination.

Comptroller Mohammed, who formally took over the mantle of leadership of the command Friday, 27th, January 2023, from Ag. Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs(ACG) Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the decision to subject all cargo to physical examination was meant to account for every content of container passing through the command and to maximize revenue returns to the Federal Government.

He, therefore, warned non-compliant traders to steer clear of the command as he would not facilitate their trade as he desired to surpass the one trillion revenue mark achieved by the command under the former area controller Yusuf.

”We shall continue to conduct 100 percent physical examination of cargo so that we can account for all the cargo in the containers and to generate more revenue so that we can surpass the one trillion revenue collection that the command has already achieved. No package, no container should leave Apapa port without a proper 100 percent physical examination.” the new Comptroller told his officers who had gathered to welcome him.

He continued ”Today marks another era in the history of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service. I am inheriting a well-structured area command. The level of achievements and status achieved under my predecessor will be sustained while I will look for all means to surpass them.

I am ready for the job. I am aware of the big shoe I am stepping into but I am well prepared for it”, Comptroller Mohammad said.

He, therefore, asked the officers to be at their utmost best to cooperate and work with him to sustain and surpass the legacies of his predecessor.

He also solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders whom he promised to engage with and updated frequently on all issues and policies that will enhance their trade and performance of the command.

The new helmsman also charged all the releasing officers and the image analysts who will be conducting the scanning of cargo to be diligent and exhibit the utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism in their duty so as not to release uncustomed goods.

Mohammed, who was redeployed from Onne Port Area Command when he was the area controller, also enjoined the importers and their agents to be compliant with the cargo clearance procedural processes in order to enjoy a seamless cargo release.

”The goods clearance procedure is simple. Everything starts and ends with declaration and if there is a proper and correct declaration of cargo, there won’t be any need for delay and unnecessary interference with the process”, he admonished.

Earlier, the outgoing Area Controller, Ag. Yusuf, while handling over the operations and procedures of the command to his successor, solicited the support and cooperation of all the officers and other stakeholders for the new helmsman, urging them to avail the new comptroller of the same level of support, guidance, and cooperation and advice they gave him.

He also lauded the untiring efforts of his officers whom he said were instrumental in the monumental achievements recorded by the command under his watch.

Consequently, some officers who excelled in the discharge of their duties were commended and awarded certificates of merit, including the indefatigable Public Relations officer of the Command, CSC Abubakar Usman.

 

 

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