Officers and men of the Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service yesterday received sensitization training to improve their skills in transparency and accountability in the line of duty.
The training done in collaboration with the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU), with the theme “Transparency and Accountability in Public Office”, held at the command’s conference room.
Primarily, the training was designed not only to eliminate corruption in public service but also to strenghten inter-agency collaboration and intelligence sharing among various government agencies.
It will be recalled that the Apapa Customs Command under the watch of
the Area Controller, Compt Yusuf Malanta has remained upbeat about inter agencies synergy and collaboration in order to achieve more.
Malanta during his welcome address said it was imperative to remind officers and stakeholders of the need to be transparent and accountable for their actions and inactions in the workplace as well as other sphere of activities in life.
The Apapa Customs boss explained that
the automation of customs operations and businesses by the Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd) is in line with efficiency, transparency and accountability, as also one of the greatest achievements of the service.
“As part of the CGC’s reform strategy, the Service is compelled to adopt diverse methods to ensure transparency and accountability, by automating exiting processes and procedures.
“Some of the technology deployed include but not limited to; the use of seamless port clearing procedures which differentiates between the trader and customs zones respectively. The use of Risk Management integrated tool for selectivity, based on the integrity of the importation.
“The use of artificial intelligence to select and assign examiners for cargo inspection.
The use of Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology (NIIT) to conduct examination using High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) to determine the content of a cargo and analyse images accordingly.
“The use of Trade Hub Portal (NTH) to disseminate information concerning import/export and transit trade.
The use of e-auction sales for auctioning seized and condemned goods. This technology is deployed to suit our trade operating environment to encourage compliance in the trade supply chain and economic growth while increasing transparency and taking advantage of new technologies.
“As the lead agency in trade facilitation reforms, the Service is committed to constantly reinventing its strategies and adapting to present day challenges through partnering with other relevant government agencies in the port for effective ease of doing business which has yielded unmeasurable improvements in trade efficiency.
He continues: “I would like to use this opportunity once again to commend the existing and sustained synergy with our stakeholders and government operatives in Apapa Port.
“The need for synergy as a stimulant in collaboration and coordination cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, we are all enjoined to consolidate and foster this enviable relationship which is indeed a great example worthy of emulation” he said
He enjoined senior officers of the command who were all present at the programme to go back to their terminals and units and cascade down the ladder, the knowledge they have learnt.
“What kind of culture are we imbibing into our lower Cader officers. You need to add value, no matter how small your area is, you should at least have a change of culture, attitude and mindset of your officers, share your views with other stakeholders around that area.
“If you have 20 officers, try and have confidence in at least fifteen of them without any sentiment”, he said.
Also speaking, Resident Commissioner of ICPC Lagos State, Mr Kabir Elelu commended Malanta and his management team for their steadfast posture in the fight against corruption.
Elelu explained that the ICPC is also working tirelessly with the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) setup by the federal government to ease and implement the ease of doing business at the port.
He also disclosed that the ICPC has in place a policy initiative known as National Ethics and Integrity Policy adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2020.
“It is an initiative of the ICPC. The idea behind it is that, the state at which Nigeria is today in regards to the decadence and corruption is as a result of the moral decadence in the society.
“These values of yesteryears have been eroded and that is why we came together to initiate this policy which was adopted by the federal government. It has seven core values among which is personal responsibility, integrity, national unity, professionalism, human dignity, patriotism and nationalism.
The whole idea is that every Nigerian and foreigner doing business in Nigeria is expected to imbibe these values and preach it” he said.
Also, the Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Intelligence, represented by Major M.G Joel noted that inter-agency rivalry is one of the challenges bedeviling intelligence collaboration among government agencies today.
According to him, some operatives are overzealous and unmindful of the boundaries and duties of others, this he said is caused by inferiority complex.
He explained that Inter agency rivalry has negative effects, kills the spirit of corporation amongst government agencies, kills their moral and lead to the breakdown of law and order; erodes confidence in personnel capability, and lead to clashes, among other negative consequences such as erosion of investors confidence and espionage tendencies.
On his part, former President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Eugene Nweke noted that customs alone cannot achieve success in the drive for transparency in isolation, and commended the area controller for the training.
Dr Nweke said that the various innovations and modernizations embarked upon by the service must be well interpreted and disseminated to younger officers who are mostly on the field, adding that whatever the junior officers do would rob-off on the senior officers.
While urging the leadership of customs to bequeath well trained and discipline officers to the service when they retire.
“There are various laws in Nigeria that needs to be harmonized just like China did in 1949 where so many of it’s laws were overlapping.
“The CEMA has not provided an avenue for customs officers to perform at their optimum”, he lamented.