Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs, Hameed Ali, on Friday gave stern warning to importers who abuse the fast track facility given to them by the service to be ready to face the music as they would not escape the long arm of the law.
He also cautioned agents who connive with importers to defraud the country as taking a big risk as the same punishment will be extended to them. Not left out are customs officials who clear such consignments even when they know they were falsely declared.
The CGC read the riot act when he visited Apapa port command of the Nigeria Customs on his way from Cotonou where he made a two day working visit. Ali’s hurried visit which came as a result of the arrests of some containers of an importer who enjoys the fast track facility but who declared falsely some 26 containers underscored the gravity of the situation on ground.
According to the Customs Area Controller Apapa, Willy Egbudin, the importer Messrs D.IE HOPES based in Ikeja was the one involved. From his narrative, his command got a tip off on July 26, 2016 that 16 containers laden with tyres at the port were falsely declared as paper board and industrial machinery and were about to be moved. He immediately gave out order that the containers be impounded. On Friday the 29th, the containers were intercepted at the gate. They were taken to enforcement while the clearing agent took off.
The CAC said the agent later came back and when investigation was done by the Customs it was discovered that all the consignments were car tyres. The command then profiled the importer and discovered that the total number of the containers was 26, and the company had taken delivery of 10 falsely declared. The agent was thereby detained while efforts are on to track the importer. Egdudin said that by that false declaration a total amount N116, 284.740.00 duty was lost by the Customs.
While giving the warning on fraudulent practices, the Customs CG said “anybody got in this crime will be brought to book. Once you falsely declare and we discover it, it is automatic seizure. Whoever is involved will face the law and if there is any officer that connived with the importer he will be prosecuted and the minimum jail term is 5 years.”
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