Arms Proliferation: IMAN Recounts Frustrations Received from Nigerian Customs

By DAPO OLAWUNI

President of the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) Hon Kingsley Chikezie has recounted how the Nigeria Customs Service allegedly truncated activities of the association shortly after it was established in year 2007.

Speaking in Lagos on Monday on a visit to the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority in Apapa, Hon Chikezie stated that the Nigeria Customs felt threatened by the creation of the IMAN Special Taskforce which was created to assist government in combating illegal importation of small arms, armunitions and light weapons.

According to him, “The Customs felt that we know too much, and we wanted to expose their inefficiency”

While intimating the Chairman of Lagos State Wharf Landing Fee Collecting Authority Chairman, Hon Adegboyega Salvador on the creation and activities of IMAN, Hon Kingsley Chikezie said:

“After the registration of IMAN in year 2007, we started our normal duties, but we had little problems with Nigeria Customs Service, we went to court.

“In the IMAN constitution, there is what we called IMAN Special Task Force against corruption, we indeed established that taskforce and it was jointly inaugurated by the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Hon Minister of Finance who is the Chairman of the Board of Nigeria Customs Service.

“By doing this, we thought that we have carried customs along, we gave them information on what was happening on a vessel coming into Onne Port with dangerous materials, the Customs felt that we know too much, and wanted to expose their inefficiency.

“At that time, there were a lot of insecurities in the country, in the place I stay at Onitsha, if you are carrying a waterproof, or any bag, they would cut your hand and run away with your bag, so there were lots things happening with guns, arms and armunitions and so on.

“So, we felt that we should review our members who are into that kind of business.

“We wrote to the government and all the government agencies accepted our proposal, and on the 16th of July 2010 the taskforce was inaugurated in Abuja and we started operating.

“But due to the letter the customs wrote, the taskforce was disbanded. We looked at the situation that we have spent so much money in establishing this outfit, so we approached the court.

“In 2013, April 30th, the Court gave us a clean slate for us to go about our jobs without any hindrance. In the normal Nigerian system, you have to wait for three months after judgement is given in order to give room for appeal. So we waited, and there was no appeal, so we started operations.

“From the judgement we had, the customs was not relaxed. When you have twelve people, there is bound to be Judas, in our association, we are so many, and we started fighting ourselves to the extent that we went to court again, we came back in 2019, the other people lost.

“Now that we are on ground, we have started interacting with all organization that has to do with importation and operations at the ports” he said

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