Businessman tackles customs official, firm over vehicles seizure

A Nigerian businessman based in the United Kingdom, Mr. Oscar Asemota, has accused an official of the Nigeria Customs Service, Odiase Osas, of defrauding him of money and cars. Asemota alleged that in May 2013, he paid Osas N400,000 to clear a Mitsubishi Pajero junior, Chevorlet GMC and a Rover 214, from the Tincan Port.

He said after months of being unable to obtain his clearance documents from Osas, he discovered that his Mitsubishi had been auctioned, while the remaining two vehicles had been gazetted for sale.

He said, “Osas is from the same village as myself; his family is known to me. When I came in May and was informed that Osas was a Customs official, I gave him N400,000 to help clear three vehicles I imported from the UK.

“In fact I first paid him N200,000 which Osas claimed he used to clear the Mitsubishi, then I gave him another N200,000 for the remaining two. In the months that followed, each time I asked for the clearing documents, Osas would become evasive.

“My cars arrived but I could not take possession; they would tell me at Tincan to come with the clearance documents which Osas was supposed to give me. Meanwhile, all the duties I was supposed to pay had been paid.”

It was gathered that after Asemota discovered that his Mitsubishi had been auctioned off, he met with the Customs Comptroller at the port who assured him that he would put a stop to the auction of Chevrolet and the Rover, adding that there was nothing that could be done about the Mitsubishi.

“I have lost the Mitsubishi, but I have yet to claim the other cars because Osas has yet to produce the clearance documents,” Asemota lamented.

The Zonal Public Relations Officer of the Customs, Mr. Ephraim Haruna, when contacted said, “We are aware of the issue. Asemota wrote a petition to us and we investigated the case. In the course of investigation, we discovered that such an incident took place and that Osas and Asemota were related.

“When we questioned Osas, he told us that Asemota was his uncle. We then advised them to go and resolve the issue among themselves as they were relatives. Osas never got back to us, so we were shocked when we discovered that the police arrested and later released him. However, N400,000 is not sufficient to clear a jeep.”

Public Relations Officer of the Western Port Police Command, Micheal Njoku said, “The case was reported at RORO Division, Tincan and later transferred to the Ports Criminal Investigation Department. If there is enough evidence to charge the Customs official at the end of our investigation, we will do so.”

Osas, however said the agreement was that Asemota would pay N600,000 for customs clearance for the three cars.

He said: “He failed to fulfill his end of the bargain. That is what caused the delay. It was in that process that the Mitsubishi was auctioned. Anyway I don’t have much to say, the matter is currently being investigated by the customs and the police.”