Smuggling: SINET charges Buhari on effective monitoring of country’s seaports

As Federal Government makes efforts towards reviving the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company, among others, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Social Integrity Network (SINET), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently device effective monitoring policy of the nation’s seaports in order to reduce massive economic loss arising from smuggling of substandard products into the country.

SINET made this call on Saturday in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, stressing that unless this was done, there is no future for the nation’s iron and steel sector.

This was just as the group lamented that Nigeria had lost about 1million tons of steel manufacturing products and about 30,000 jobs, between 2017 to date due to high rates of smuggling, importation of substandard products, high conspiracy and connivance among Custom officers and perpetrators of illegal acts, among others.

It, however, enjoined President Buhari to issue an Executive Order compelling the Comptroller-General to fish out corrupt officers who had been assisting importers to clear good thereby hindering the aged- long fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other social vices which had claimed lives of innocent citizens while many communities had been ravaged and deserted.

National Coordinator of the group, Mallam Ibrahim Isah, in the statement, while noting President Buhari’s remark on border closure when he received a delegation of the Nigerian Association for Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI) and representatives of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) as being a blessing to Nigeria, equally described it as highly commendable.

“We cannot fold our arms and allow smuggling to take over our economy thereby subjecting us to high economic risk and massive downsizing of industrial workers.

“Many local industries have collapsed due to the high rate of importation of substandard products such as coloured corrugated roofing sheets, aluminium roofing sheets as well as galvanised corrugated roofing sheets.

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“It is saddened to note that while the nation is gradually winning the war against smuggling through the closure of inland borders, no attention is given to seaports where containers are checked into the country without adequate inspection thereby paving ways for substandard goods as well as dangerous weapons into the nation. There can’t be a significant success without paying cognizance attention to seaports and creeks,” SINET said.

Speaking further, the group appealed to the Federal Government to enact a strong national policy that would further protect the economic interest of the local manufacturers as well as reduce revenue evasion rate which it said had made Nigerian Customs to be losing a minimum of N1bilion to smugglers weekly in the face of numerous socio-economic decadence, ill-infrastructures, alarming rate of unemployment and high foreign debts index.

SINET enjoined President Buhari to take bold steps towards sanitizing the Customs service and prevent what it termed “the persisting massive smuggling activities” in a bid to further demonstrate strong political-will of promoting local content and safeguarding the future of over 200million Nigerians.

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