Customs arraigns businessman over illegal importation of furniture

The Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has arraigned a Lagos-based businessman, Roland Ogbonna and his company, Elgusto Classic International before a Federal High Court in Lagos over a three count charge bordering on illegal importation of furniture, breaking of Customs seal and evasion of duty payment.
The suspect and his company were alleged to have imported 511 sets of various furniture from China in July 2016, contrary to provision of section 47 (i) and (ii) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
Ogbonna and his staff were also alleged to have, on August 1, 2016, broken the Customs seal placed on the company’s warehouse without authority, with the intent to evade prohibition, and removed some sets of the furnitures valued at N100 million.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the unit, Jerry Attah said, “After preliminary investigation, inspection and discovery at the warehouse located at Lekki, officers of the unit swung into action by sealing up the warehouse pending thorough investigation.
“The owner of the warehouse alongside two of his staff were arrested, detained  and released after their statements were taken and all bail conditions were met.
“On 1st of August 2016, information got to the unit that the  Managing Director with his staff had broken the seal of the Nigeria  Customs Service placed upon Elgusto Classic International warehouse located at Km 43, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki, without authority, with an intent to evade prohibition, thereby committed an offence contrary to the provision of section 145 (5) of CEMA LFN 2004, which they were charged for.
“After breaking the seal, they removed some sets of the furniture imported from China valued at N100 million, (for) which they were arraigned with the intent of evading payment of Customs duty, an offence contrary to the provision of  section 164 (a) of CEMA Cap C45 LFN 2004,”
He said the suspect has been remanded in Ikoyi prison awaiting trial while the case has been adjourned to October 19 2016.
Ajakaye Julius Iyiola who led the legal team of the NCS prayed that the court expedite the legal proceedings to serve as deterrent to others.
Meanwhile, Controller of the unit, Comptroller Umar Dahiru has expressed determination to sustain the present tempo of zero tolerance for smuggling activities even as he praised the commitment and diligence of his officers for thwarting the antics of smugglers.
He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, genuine importers and owners of warehouses are hereby advised not to exercise any fear as NCS action is only about enforcing payments that are legitimately due to the federal government and to ensure that smuggling is brought to its barest minimum.”

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