Nigeria Customs Suspends 300 Clearing Licenses Over Fraud

The popular Nnewi Building in Apapa Port

…Red Flags “Nnewi Building” as Den Of Cyber Hackers

The Nigeria Customs Service has red flagged the popular ‘Nnewi Building’ beside the Lagos Port Complex in Apapa as a hot zone for smuggling syndicates, specialising in clearing document falsification, hacking of passwords issued to licensed customs agents.

Zonal Coordinator of Zone ‘A’ of Nigeria Customs Service, Assistant Comptroller General (ACG) Kaycee Ekekezie stated this in Lagos last week.

DAILY TREND gathered that more than 300 licenses belonging to members of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) including that of its National President, Tony Iju Nwabunike has been suspended for allegedly being hacked and used to smuggle vehicles out of the port.
Nnewi Building plays host to numerous cyber cafes known as Direct Traders Input (DTI) Cafes. However, in 2016, the Customs had scrapped their operations following reported cases of high scale fraud.
The Customs now issues the DTI passwords directly to clearing agents.
Ekekezie who was addressing freight forwarders in Apapa last week, also advised them to be careful of whom they allow to be in control of their password, saying that some of their staff also compromise with the hackers.
She advised agents to always change their password codes immediately they are given by the customs, according to her, 70% of the cases of password hacking were successfully carried out on default passwords.
“Those Fraudsters hacking your password are there at Nnewi Building, you better be careful. Another thing is that you might be shocked that it is your boys that are doing this thing.It is true that we have minimized it to a certain extent, but going to the public DTI is what has affected most of you”
“You will see somebody who has not even utilised his DTI for once, it is the system that generates the code of your password. Once the password is given, you need to go back and change it, the same way you change the password of your ATM, when you go to a bank and collect an ATM, when you step out, you have to change it, if not, it would remain a default”
“70% of the cases we have treated were committed on default password”
“If you come to us to complain that your password was hacked to clear a vehicle, you become our first suspect, you are the one we gave the password and you must prove to us that you did not intentionally give it out” she warned
In a separate event last week, National President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike lamented that his clearance license as well as 300 others were suspended by the Customs.
He said that the smuggling syndicates have perfected cyber hacking modalities in connivance with unscrupulous Customs Officers whereby the password of his members routinely hacked into and changed.
According to him, the passwords are changed for a period of time, usually within three days to one week when the fraud is being perpetuated.
Tony said the association had visited the Customs CG on an appeal for the licenses to be released pending final investigation but this request among others relating to operational challenges has not been granted.
He said “The CGC graciously set up a joint top management committee of Nigeria Customs Service and ANLCA at the headquarters. After several meetings with Custom management as early in July 2017, Customs agreed to some recommendations, which, up till date, has not been implemented”

Some of the challenges he highlighted includes; multiple alerts and failure of the one stop shop error resolution at Tin Can Island Port, usurpation of Post Clearance Audit (PCA) mandate, Ekiti and Ondo axis arbitrariness of Federal Operations Unit (FOU) among others

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