It seems that the government will have to sort out policy issues as the Nigerian Service Customs Service dumps ease of doing business policy, one of the flagship policy programs of the Buhari-led administration.
Announcing the development, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col Hameed Ali (rtd.), blamed the high proliferation of arms at the borders as its reason for abandoning the policy.
“Now that the Tin-Can Island port has become a hot spot for arms smuggling, these criminals will move elsewhere and we must be at alert… That is why we find it difficult to effectively execute the ease of doing business policy. Because if we fast track clearance and depend on the documentation, these kinds of arms are what we will be unleashing on the Nigerian people. This means we must take all containers for 100 per cent examination.”
The decision of the NCS was borne from the recent spike in the rate of arms proliferation in the country, which has had the NCS worried. Over the past 7 months, NCS has intercepted 2,671 rifles and 1,100 pump action rifles, the latest of which was a shipment of 475 rifles from Turkey.
According to Ali, these interception were only possible due to the 10% examination on arrival policy which the NCS used as the arms come into the country under false declaration. Thus, attempts to fast track clearance, the NCS boss, said would be inimical to the country’s security.
The security concerns have become so bad that the President has had to summon the Turkish ambassador whose country has been fingered in multiple illegal arms shipments into the country. What however remains to be seen is how the Presidency will react to the Customs boss assertions. The matter will need careful negotiation as the Presidency will want to avoid destroying what has been achieved so far in improving ease of doing business in Nigeria while at the same time ensuring that the nation’s security is not compromised, especially in the wake of spats of violence around the country.