“It also extends to the denial of, sometimes life-saving relief materials to places they are needed, particularly disease-ravaged areas and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) settlements. And given the present IDP crisis Nigeria now faces, the material and humanitarian losses can only be imagined”
“We have to come together to facilitate the clearance of these cargoes for Nigerians and other nations who use Nigerian ports for transit trade. Going by the delegation here, I am sure that the technical session would come with quality information and the National Assembly is here to make it legislation” Bello said.
He described stakeholders’ consultation as a very important opportunity to address industry problems.
Commending the 9th National Assembly, Bello said; “At the National Assembly, we are looking at bills that not just political but also seek to address economic issues and improve the wellbeing of the citizens.”
Senator Oloriegbe said “We want to see how we can better implement the existing protocols and laws as it relates to clearing charitable items at Nigerian ports. We want to deploy technology to make things faster and we also want to review areas that require legislative intervention in terms of new laws.”
He asserted that the most important and immediate approach would be to have SOPs that would put together the best processes and create ease in the procedure.
“We need to create an interim alternative to address the current emergencies we have in the country to get charitable items swiftly delivered to areas of conflict in the North East and the North West,”
Speaking on behalf of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Zonal Coordinator Zone A, ACG Kaycee Ekekezie reiterated that import waivers on charitable items have been misused and abused not just by businessmen but also by some non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations.
According to her, the Customs have been shocked to find business persons hide under NGOs to import high duty accessories for sale, yet disguised as charitable items.
She advised the NGOs as well as the government agencies to know what is expected of them at every level.
“Improper documentation has also been a major problem. NGOs must get the required documents outlined by the Ministry of Finance before they approach the Customs. Corrupt practices by importers and various port officials have also affected this process”, she said.
She noted that the major challenge of charitable goods shipping is lack of documentation and compliance by the beneficiaries.
According to her, most times, the import must have arrived Nigeria before the beneficiaries commence documentation processes.
The highpoint of the event was the establishment of the SOP committee which is headed by Princess Module Ozolua from office of the Deputy Senate President. Others includes Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), Special Security Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML), CRFFN, Nigerian INGO Forum, and the Director-General, African Centre for Supply Chain, Dr. Obiora Madu.