The Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service (NAQS), has raised the alarm that many export cargoes bound for foreign countries now bypass inspection at Apapa port.
The government agency assigned to carry out examination process on agric produce before shipping out of the country alleged that the agency is being excluded from cargo examination process at the port.
Coordinator of the Apapa Command of NAQS, Dr. Steven Ekoro, disclosed this recently when held he led senior officers of the service on a courtesy visit to the Customs Area Controller of Apapa command of Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir in Lagos.
He implored the customs boss to ensure that some Quarantine officers are allowed to be part of the signing of examination forms by government agencies in the port after cargo inspection.
However, Ekoro lamented that three bonded terminals under Apapa Customs; Max Global, AML and Ecant Bonded Terminals always refused Quarantine officers access into their terminal to inspect agric produce within their facility.
While highlighting the dangers and implications of export cargoes passing through the port without proper inspection; he said the dangers would further lead to an international embarrassment for Nigeria, adding that it was on records in 2015, Nigeria was delisted from exporting some major agric products to European Union (EU) countries, specifically the United Kingdom, where a blanket ban was placed on its beans.
He stressed: “We are expecting that the ban would be lifted next year and we are working very hard to ensure that any product that leaves the shore of Nigeria is well certified, it is acceptable and meet international standard.
Here in Apapa command, we want to plead with the management of Customs, that most of the products that cross the main gate for export, we give them phytosanitary certificate, but we still have some Judas among them that bypass the Quarantine Service.
“Our prayers is that NAQS should be allowed to sign the examination form that the Customs normally sign so that we can use that opportunity to advise the prospective exporters to go to our headquarters and follow the procedure of certifying their products and allow our officers to carry out inspection.”
While responding, the customs boss, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir reaffirmed the existing relationship between the customs and other sisters agencies, exhorting that Quarantine service should take steps to key into the customs Single Window platform in order to receive automatically the list of declarations made in Apapa port daily.