The federal government tuesday blamed the agitation in the Southern part of Cameroon for the increase in the import of illegal arms into the country.
The government also accused shipping firms particularly foreign lines operating in the country of aiding and abetting illegal arms importation.
Disclosing this at a stakeholders' meeting in Lagos, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Handed Ali, (rtd) said the illegal importation of arms and ammunition was the biggest concern facing the customs.
Ali also said the trend has not only become a sour
ce of concern to all Nigerians but also to the security wellbeing of neighbouring countries.
The customs boss explained that if shipping firms collaborate with the NCS to block the loopholes that importers were exploiting the situation will be reduced to the barest minimum.
He warned that any vessel caught in the transportation of prohibited and banned cargoes would be arrested and detained, adding that the security of the country cannot be compromised.
The retired army officer also told shipping companies that change in ship manifest midway into a voyage would henceforth be unacceptable, noting that that was what the arms importers used in bringing his illicit cargoes to Nigeria.
He also said the all containerised cargoes must be palletised except for bulk cargoes.
According to him, "The issue of being ignorant of the content of the container will no more be acceptable. Carrying out examination on unpalletised cargoes was always a problem as palletisation of containerized cargoes makes cargo examination easy and faster. We must have standard, we must have synergy between you and us that way we can achieve 24 hours cargo clearance time."
Explaining further, Ali said in the light of implementing the Executive Order which was signed by the Vice President, Ptof. Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President, the customs needd the cooperation of every stakeholders so as to make the implementation of the Order successful.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, called on stakeholders to join hands with the customs to make the port a better place to do business and facilitate trade.
He said the execution of trade policies alone without the cooperation of stakeholders could make the Executive Order unimplementable.