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Court Stops FG From Taking Further Actions On e-Customs

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained the Federal Government from enforcing or giving effect to the Customs Modernisation Project otherwise known as e-Customs allegedly executed by its agents on May 30, 2022.
The agents who allegedly executed the disputed concession project are the Nigerian Customs Service, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, and African Finance Corporation.
The court also issued an order of interim injunction against the Federal Government or its agents acting through the Federal Executive Council from retrospectively ratifying the decisions to concession the e-Customs project to Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Limited, and African Finance Corporation.
The restraining order issued last Friday by Justice Inyang Ekwo shall last till the hearing and the determination of a suit brought against the Federal Government by two aggrieved companies.
The two aggrieved companies are E-Customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited which jointly challenged the alleged unlawful and fraudulent concession of the e-customs project to African Finance Corporation.
Counsel to the two aggrieved companies, Anone Usman had, on behalf of the two plaintiffs, argued an ex-parte application in which he prayed the Federal High Court for interim orders against the defendants to protect the interest of his clients.
Justice Inyang Ekwo while ruling on the ex-parte application granted the prayers of the plaintiffs having placed sufficient evidence of interest in the concession project.
The Judge also granted permission to the aggrieved companies to serve a Writ of Summons and all other processes on the African Finance Corporation at its head office, located in Ikoyi, Lagos through DHL courier services.
Defendants in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, Attorney-General of the Federation, Finance Minister, Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Limited, African Finance Corporation, and Bergman Security Consultant and Supply as 1st to 9th defendants respectively.
Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed June 28 for hearing in the matter.
The two plaintiffs had in their statement of claims narrated how they proposed to carry out the Customs Modernisation Project through several government officials for the benefit of the Nigerian Customs Service.
They claimed that after a series of meetings and negotiations with some of the defendants, President Muhammudu Buhari granted anticipatory approval for the e- customs Project
According to them, on September 2, 2020, the Minister of Finance presented a memo with the number EC2020/153 to the Federal Executive Council, the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government, and secured approval for the two plaintiffs to be granted the award of the concession.
The plaintiffs said that trouble started when the Nigeria Customs Service unilaterally reviewed the Federal Executive Council approval and imposed other conditions among which are shareholding formulae and governance structure on them.
They said further that the power of the Nigeria Customs Service to unilaterally review FEC approval was protested and that the Comptroller General of the agency stood his ground.
They said they were surprised to read in the news that the Nigeria Customs Service had executed a concession agreement with the Trade Modernisation Project on May 30, 2022, with Huawei Technologies Company and African Finance Corporation in total breach of the Concession Agreement vetted by the AGF in conjunction with the Minister of Finance.
They said that the Trade Modernisation Project Limited was incorporated in April 2022 at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with one Alhaji Saleh Ahmadu a close friend of the Comptroller General as the chairman.
The plaintiff stated that the new company, having been just incorporated in April 2022 could not have obtained and did not obtain the full business case compliance certificate from the Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission (IRCC) and the approval of the Federal Executive Council to carry out the e- custom project.
They, therefore, asked the court to make a declaration that the decisions of the Federal Government and its agent to enter into a concession agreement with Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company and African Finance Corporation in respect of the e-customs project is illegal, null and void, having been made in gross violation of Section 2 of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act 2005.
They also asked the court to declare that e-Customs HC Project Limited is the approved and rightful concessionaire for the e-customs project as approved by the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of September 2, 2020, and in line with Section 2 of the Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission Act.
They applied for an order of the court directing the Federal Government through AGF, Finance Minister, IRCC, and Customs to consulate the e- custom project with the 1st plaintiff, (E-Customs Project Limited) as approved by FEC in its September 2020 meeting.

Besides, the two plaintiffs asked the court to compel the defendants to pay them a sum of N200m as the cost of litigation.

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NDLEA Arrests 774 Suspects, Seizes 3,874.3kgs Of Drugs In Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau

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NDLEA arrested 774 suspects and seized 3,874.3kgs of various narcotics and psychotropic substances in Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau State in the first half of 2022.
The three states make the Zone D of the narcotics agency.
Zonal Commander in the zone Umoru Ambrose, said this in Lafia yesterday while marking the 2022 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
He said 134 drug suspects were prosecuted during the period, while 378 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated.
He added that states in the zone had intensified their operations in the War against Drug Abuse and sensitisation.
Ambrose called on all stakeholders to get involved in curbing drugs menace in the zone.
In his remarks, NDLEA Commander in Nasarawa State, Peter Odaudu, said the celebrations underscored the need for access to proper treatment for people with drug disorders.
He stressed that the war against drugs must be intensified in Nasarawa State especially given its position as the second highest drug prevalence state in the North Central after Kwara.
“Statistics from the 2018 drug survey showed a very alarming trend, the involvement of females in drug issues.
“We have at least one female out of every four drug users; this development is worrisome and must be reversed,’’ he said.
Odaudu thanked Nasarawa State’s Governor Abdullahi Sule for his support for the NDLEA and solicited urgent intervention in the provision of operational vehicles and the construction of a rehabilitation centre.
Guest speaker, Mr Nwora Okpalaeke, who is coordinator of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, said 494,000 users died of drug abuse in 2019.
He spoke on “Illicit Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’’
He said drug abusers suffered liver cirrhosis, stroke, hepatitis, kidney and heart failure, noting that 14.3 million Nigerians are drug addicts, while three million are suffering from drug-related disorders.
“Government should strengthen the system to prevent proliferation of drugs and pay attention to agencies charged with reversing the situation.
“Drug abuse affects economic growth; the higher the abuse the higher the level of insecurity and poverty,’’ he said.
Senior Special Assistant on Primary Healthcare to Governor Sule, Margaret Elayo, commended the NDLEA in the state and assured of partnership to curb drug abuse in Nasarawa State.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the Day is: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’

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NDLEA Arrests 218 Suspects, Seizes 1,471.314kg Of Drugs In Imo

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The Imo State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested 218 drug suspects made up of 171 males and 47 females.
The agency has also seized 1,471.314kg of drugs between July 2021 and June 2022.
The state commandant, NDLEA, Mr. Reuben Apeh, disclosed this while speaking to The Tide ahead of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drugs Trafficking.
He said that 1,458.49kg of Cannabis Sativa, 1,0513kg of cocaine, 0.2077kg of Heroine, 3.896kg of Methamphetamine and 3.184kg of Tramadol were exhibits seized within the period under review.
Apeh disclosed further that cannabis farm in hectares was also destroyed in Imo State while 0.5278kg of Rohypnol and 2.5135kg of diazepam were among the seized exhibits.
He stated that some of the arrested suspects had been arraigned and convicted for drug related offences at the Federal High Court.
According to him, “Within the period covered, 51 were convicted and 145 were charged and their cases are still on going”.
Apeh described the drug situation in Imo State as worrisome, saying women have joined the illicit trade for financial gains.
He lamented that drug peddling was alarming among the younger generation in the state.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to partner with NDLEA to sensitize the society on the dangers of drug abuse.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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NDE Trains 750 Youths On Apprenticeship Skills In Imo

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The National Directorate for Employment (NDE) has commenced the training of 750 youths on various apprenticeship skills in Imo State.
Director-General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, made this known while flagging off the training programme in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The Tide reports that the training is captured under the Advanced National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (A-NOAS) and Basic National Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) of the Directorate’s Department of Vocational Skills Development (VSD).
The training skills include barbing, basic tailoring, hairdressing, welding, event planning, make- up, confectionery and auto mechanic, among others.
Nuhu-Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator of the NDE in Imo State, Mrs Ngozi Ihenacho, explained that the trainees include youths and women drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the intensive training programme will take place in the Directorate’s training centres, one in each senatorial district of the state, and last for three months.
He urged the trainees to utilise the opportunity provided by the training programme to acquire viable skills that would enable them become self-reliant, and thereby decongest the labour market, and reduce poverty and hunger.
“In today’s world, opportunities such as these are rare and hardly come on a platter and I  urge you, my dear beneficiaries, to take this opportunity serious, be punctual at the training venue with the aim of liberating yourselves from the chains of poverty and unemployment”, he advised.
Also speaking at the programme, Director of the VSD, Mallam Isa Abdu, explained that the training scheme would run simultaneously, with the beneficiaries receiving transport allowances for the duration of training.
Abdu, represented by a senior staff in VSD, Mr Onyekwelu Igwesi, said that expert trainers had been hired to conduct the training and urged the trainees to justify the opportunity given them to become employers of labour.
“All over the world, as the value of money depreciates, entrepreneurs are adjusting with the times, hence the need for viable skills that can drive the economy. Learn the skills and be your own boss”, he said.
One of the trainees, Miss Oluchi Uchenna, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NDE for creating the opportunity for them to thrive in their quest to become economically independent.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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