ABTL apologises to Edike, denies media report on alleged terminal invasion

The management of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc – owners of Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) – has formally apologised to the Controller, Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Charles Edike over a libelous media report (not SHIPS & PORTS DAILY) which claimed that the he (Edike) went on rampage at the terminal and carted away an undisclosed amount of money.

ABTL is the operator of Terminals A and B of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.

The Group Managing Director of Flour Mills, Mr. Paul Gbededo, in a letter dated 24th September 2014, tendered an unreserved apology on behalf of the company to the highly respected Customs Comptroller and to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji DIkko Abdullahi.

The company said at no time did any of its officials accuse Edike and/or his officers of being on rampage at the terminal or of carting away money.

“It is a typical case of junk journalism by one of those fake newspapers that go around blackmailing people,” a source at ABTL told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.

The source, who is a staff in the office of the ABTL Managing Director, Captain Mohammed Bashir, but who does not want his name mentioned said the media report was a clear case of mischief aimed at “destroying the relationship between ABTL, Flour Mills and the Customs management”.

He said his company clearly understands that the port is a Customs port and that the CAC has every right to go to anywhere within the port of his jurisdiction.

The source said the Managing Director of ABTL, which is a subsidiary of Flour Mills, Captain Mohammed Bashir has personally visited Edike to apologise for the embarassing media report.

When contacted, Comptroller Edike said the report aimed to portray the Nigeria Customs Service in bad light before the public.

Edike, who has been commended severally for his professionalism, good conduct, trade facilitation and for building cordial working relationship with all stakeholders under the command, said he found it absurd that anyone could accuse him of such act.

He said he has reported the matter to the Comptoller General of Customs for appropriate action.

Edike said the NCS is empowered by law to go into any terminal.

He said: “The Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) section 12 sub sections 1 and 2 say that any area of arrival or departure of a ship for customs purpose is referred to as a customs ports. So that place is a customs port. Section 158 sub sections 2 says any officer engaged in the enforcement of customs and excise law to patrol freely, over and enter any place in Nigeria.

“Then CEMA 131 sub section 2 provides that where an officer after having demanded admission into and such premises and declared his name and business at the entrance there of and is not immediately admitted, that officer and any person acting in his aid may break open any door or window of the premises or break any wall thereof for the purpose of obtaining admission. Meaning that the officer is empowered by law to break even any way and enter.

“Section 11a provides that if any person obstructs, hinders or assault any person duly engaged in the performance of any duty, exercise of any power imposed or conferred on him by Customs Excise law or any person acting on his aid shall be liable to the fine of N1,000 or imprisonment for 2 years or above.

“That is the penalty for breaching the law.”

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