General staff headquarters (GHQ) and the internal affairs ministry, now appear to be at loggerheads over the clearance of imported kolanuts which generated a heated controversy at the Customs and Excise headquarters, in Lagos.
The issue at stake was the GHQ granting of a monopoly rights to a clearing agent, Alhaji Yinusa Danjaki and Sons Limited, on the clearing of kolanuts imported into the country by some Nigerians residents in a number of ECOWAS countries.
The latest development o the issue The Republic gathered is that the ministry under whose jurisdiction falls the customs is that the monopoly rights are detrimental to the economic interests of Nigeria.
The ministry‚Äôs permanent secretary, Alhaji Dahiru in a letter dated December 2, 1987, told the chief of general staff, that there is a need for change of mind on the monopoly right.
According to Alhaji Dahiru, under the existing customs and other laws and regulations, it is not usual to grant monopoly for clearance imported items to any specified clearing agent.
The permanent secretary noted that restriction clearing business to one agent brings in several inconveniences, as the affected imports could come from any of the ports of the country and such agent may not have the operational capabilities of being available in all the possible entry points he added.
In this regard, Alhaji Dahiru told CGS that the sole clearing agency status granted to Messrs Alhaji Yinusa Danjaki needs to be reviewed and all clearing agents who deals in kolanuts import given equal opportunities in the business.
The kolanuts crisis, which was first reported exclusively by The Republic in its November 2, 1987 edition, started unfolding when the clearing agent applied to the CGS for a sole agency to clear the imported kolanuts.
The affected kolanuts were being imported by Nigerians residents in Ghana, Liberi and Sierra Leone, who could not repatriate their wealth back into the country.
Granting the application, CGS in a letter signed on his behalf by Lt. Gen. L. Teide, directed the internal affair minister to issue a restricted circular to the area administrators of the ports, to that effect.
At the headquarters of the Customs and Excise in Lagos, the circular generated controversy as the Department‚Äôs Deputy Director of Economic Relations, Research and Planning, Mr. O. Fafowora objected seriously to the granting of monopoly clearing right to the agent.
In a circular, dated July 7, 1987, Mr. Fafowora said that aside from being constitutionally indefensible, such a monopoly will create chaos in the importation of kolanuts which could come from an of the ports in the country.
This interpretation of the CGS circular was however protested by the clearing agent, who petitioned CGS on the issue.
Following this, Lt. Col. Teidi, on behalf of CGS, sent another letter dated August 31, 1987, to the internal affairs‚Äô ministry, permanent secretary, noting that some of your customs officials have failed to cooperate with him (Alhaji Danjaki) as regards the above correspondences ad particularly his approved request of being the sole clearing agent to the affected Nigerians as outlined in previous correspondence.
Few months later, Fafowora was flushed out office, and the new director of customs, in a circular dated September 10, 1987, sent to all area administrators said Alhaji Yinusa Danjaki and Sons Ltd is the appointed sole clearing agent for all importation of kolanuts.