SEIZURES GALORE: As Customs Pushes Harder, With 20 Containers Of Expired TOMATO Concentrate At PTML, 8 Trailer Loads Of Rice At FOU Zone ‘A’
By Jerry Aguigbo
It was seizures Galore as the Customs Controller-General, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi undertook a tour of the Western Zone. With the Ports and Terminal Multi services Limited, PTML Customs Command where the CGC showcased a humongous seizure of 20 Containers of expired tomato Concentrate, even as the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ went bullish with a flaunting a daunting seizure of 8 Trailer Loads of foreign parboiled rice amongst other seizures yesterday in Lagos.
Announcing the remarkable seizure at the Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML), the CG said this is “a seizure that marks a historic milestone in the history of the command. We have successfully intercepted and detained a staggering 20 containers filled with expired tomato concentrate, an unprecedented event since the inception of this command.
Giving a detailed account of the seizure, Adeniyi said,
“On the 8th of August, 2023, during a routine examination, our vigilant officers at PTML uncovered a cache of expired tomato concentrate, deemed unsafe for human consumption. The audacity of the smugglers to attempt introducing this hazardous product into the Nigerian market is both shocking and disheartening.”
He disclosed that
these expired tomato concentrates were concealed within 20 containers, each falsely declared as containing almond shells, all under the auspices of a company identified as Nikecristy Investment Limited. In each container, 80 drums were meticulously arranged, amounting to a total of 1,600 drums. The duty paid value of this illegal cargo is a staggering sum of #116,211,725.73
The container numbers involved in this illicit operation are as follows: ACLU 2790243, GCNU 1275582, GCNU 1303278, GCNU 1336137, GCNU 1361905, GCNU 1316824, GCNU 1323314, GCNU 1324727, GCNU 1326210, SEGU 3388813, ACLU 2800629, GCLU 13218553, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1302570, GCNU 1308140, SEGU 3333426, and SEGU 3338351.
He informed that all these containers remain in Customs custody and have been officially recorded as seizures. With one suspect, Mr. Okonkwo Oliver Izunna nabbed and currently under administrative bail but remains under investigation.
The seizure, TodayNews learned, was processed through three separate single good declarations (SGDs) forms. This according to the CGC “is a testament to our unwavering commitment to maximally suppress smuggling and our determination to safeguard the lives of Nigerian citizens by intercepting dangerous imports such as these,” he stated.
According to him, the actions taken by those involved in this unlawful activity contravene the provisions of sections 228(1) and (2), 55 (c and d), and 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. Additionally, it directly violates Schedule 4, item 14 of the Common External Tariff (CET) 2022-2026.
Comptroller Adeniyi therefore sent a stern warning to importers and their agents, urging them to steer clear of unlawful practices such as false declarations aimed at evading duties or smuggling prohibited goods into our country.
In his words,
“The audacious attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market is heartless and inexcusable. I want to assure you that our officers and personnel will always remain vigilant, diligently scrutinizing all import and export consignments passing through our seaports, airports, border stations, dry ports, and terminals nationwide.”
The CGC reiterated that compliant automobile importers and their agents can now expect streamlined clearance processes, with consignments being cleared within three hours when importations adhere to our regulations, involve honest declarations, and prompt payment of customs duties.
He implored all importers and their agents to act patriotically by making honest declarations. “Remember that compliance brings numerous benefits, including building a reputation for integrity, saving time and money by avoiding demand notices and penalties, and staying out of legal troubles that could lead to imprisonment, loss of licenses, and blacklisting.”
Meanwhile, at the FOU Zone ‘A’ Lagos, the CGC took Journalists round a plethora of seizures, with 7,029 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice capping the log.
According to him,
“These decisive actions took place at various times and locations within the border corridors of the South-Western states. The objective was twofold: to discourage potential traders from engaging in muggling activities and to inflict financial losses on active smugglers.
Beyond the parboiled rice seizures, the Unit’s operations yielded significant results in September, with the interception of various goods. These include:
35,100 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS),
1,100 liters of diesel,
1 40-foot container carrying 360 bales of used clothes,
1 40-foot container containing 150 cartons of ladies’ handbags,
50 bales of nickers, and other falsely declared items.
1120- coller of unprocessed wood 106 cartons of foreign frozen poultry,
55 pieces of used fridges.
110 pieces of used compressors,
148 cartons of foreign soap,
121 cartons of expired hair oil.
25 units of vehicles (Tokunbo).
Compt. Adeniyi disclosed that
Investigations into some of these seizures are still ongoing.
14 suspects have been apprehended in connection with various offenses, including violating import/export guidelines, concealment, undervaluation, wrong classification, smuggling, and contravening policy directives.
The cumulative duty paid value of the intercepted goods amounts to an impressive One Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty-five Million, Eighty
Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety-eight Naira (1,755,080,898).
Furthermore, the Unit generated Seventy-two Million, Eight Hundred and Seven Thousand, Twenty-five Naira, Eleven Kobo (N72,807,025.11) in revenue through meticulous documentary checks and the issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have paid lesser amounts than the appropriate customs duty.
The CGC however urged all importers and their licensed agents to make sincere declarations. adhere to existing import and export guidelines, and avoid the risk of losing their investments. ‘Compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a strategic choice that ensures the smooth and efficient flow of goods across our borders,” he said.