Home Maritime Customs, Navy team battle midstream discharge of cargoes

Customs, Navy team battle midstream discharge of cargoes

As part of renewed efforts at ending the recent economic sabotage in form of midstream vessel discharges by some major companies at Snake Island towards the end of 2015, which was later discovered by the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) and sanctions imposed, the Zonal Coordinator, Zone ‘A’ of the NCS, Assistant Comptroller-General Eporwei Edike, has urged the Nigerian Navy to assist Customs in stopping midstream discharge of cargoes.
Edike made the disclosure during his visit to the Headquarters, Western Naval Command (WNC), in Lagos.
Speaking with officer of the WNC, he said “We have to look at other sister agencies to assist us to succeed in our duties,” stressing that “For that reason, we know with your role, you can still assist us through collaboration so that we can stop midstream discharge”.
“Out there, I see a lot of small vessels engaging in midstream discharge,’’ Edike said, noting that midstream discharge of cargoes in the nation’s waters remains an economic sabotage.
He said that there were over 300 creeks in Lagos, adding that if all Customs officers were redeployed to those creeks, they would not arrest all the smugglers in those areas.
Edike said that the porous areas were big task for Customs officers, adding that the Navy had always assisted Customs in stopping midstream discharge. He said that customs had reduced check points along the Badagry and Seme border axis into two, while officers had been redeployed into the creeks.
Edike commended the Nigerian Navy’s role, especially at the Western Marine Command of Customs Service, for assisting Customs in intercepting a lot of smuggled goods.
Responding, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Ralph Osondu, said that the Navy had been mandated to assist Customs in its duties. Osondu said that Customs did not need to plead for assistance, adding that both organisations were meant to for national security of the nation.
“We have set up a surveillance system. From our office, we can access Ship to Ship transfer and any time we see such act, we detain them and hand them over to the appropriate authority.
“We do not have power to prosecute, but we can only detain and hand over to the particular authority for continuation.
“We will continue to do our best. We preach synergy, information and we have long-standing relationship with Customs.
He said that the command had capability and capacity, adding that the Navy also pleaded for collaboration on intelligence. Osondu said that the Navy could not succeed in any operation without intelligence. He said that the Navy had also blocked most of the creeks just as Customs made the borders difficult for smugglers. Osondu added that smugglers would like to escape through waterways. He said the Navy would support Customs and government to achieve its mandate on national security.

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