Customs arraigns Lebanese over N48m duty fraud

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday charged a Lebanese, Fares Chawich, before a Federal High Court, Lagos, over alleged intent to defraud the Federal Government of N48 million.

Chawich, who resides at No. 27A, Bishop Oluwole St., Victoria Island, Lagos, is standing trial on a five-count charge bordering on fraud.

Chawich is charged alongside Emmanuel Ekong of No. 17, SoboArobiodu St., GRA Ikeja, Lagos, who is still at large.

The prosecutor, Julius Ajakaye, told the court that the accused committed the offences on May 18 within Lagos metropolis.

Ajakaye alleged that Chawich broke the seal of the Nigeria Customs on five cars in a bid to defraud the government of N48 million being unpaid duties on the vehicles.

He said the duties payable on the vehicles were N14.5 million, N10 million, N8.1 million, N7 million and N8.4 million.

The offences contravened Section 145 (5) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty.

Counsel to the accused, Chris Emeh, told the court that he had filed a bail application supported with a 19-paragraph affidavit and a written address for the accused.

The prosecutor, however, did not oppose the bail application, but asked that the valid international passport of the accused should be deposited at the court.

Justice Saliu Saidu, however, granted bail to the accused in the sum of N10 million with two sureties, who must reside within Nigeria and also have an evidence of a landed property in Lagos.

July 8 has been fixed for commencement of trial, while the accused was remanded in custody pending when the bail conditions would be fulfilled.

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