Customs loses billions to import duties fraudsters at Tin Can

Like schools of sharks in feeding frenzy, rapacious Customs duties syndicate may be enjoying free rein at the Tin-Can Island Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos, feeding fat on large-scale doctoring clearing documents for imports, notably brand new vehicles, routinely passing these off as used items, and earning ridiculously lower duties.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY findings revealed that these syndicates comprise certain unscrupulous personnel of the Tin-Can Island Port Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), top officials of Customs licenced agencies, and staff of shipping companies/agencies that ferry these consignments that into the country.
It was learnt that one of these syndicates that allegedly thrive at the TCIPC, within the four-year period 2008 – 2012, swindled the Customs of over N1 billion, using doctored bills of lading provided by comprised staff of shipping companies/agencies to process expected duties on consignments cleared by a number of agents from the TCIPC.

It was gathered that a number of Customs officers (names withheld) allegedly played major roles in facilitating the large-scale economic sabotage by this particular syndicate by rendering the valuation and physical examination, respectively, mere masquerades.
Severally, according to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY checks, brand new bullet-proof vehicles had been declared and cleared by this syndicate without the requisite end-user clearance from the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Similarly, units of these specialised security vehicles, it was learnt, are cleared as used commercial vehicles, which attract much-lower duties, compared to what honest declaration and valuation rating would be.

This syndicate’s alleged Customs scam, within the aforementioned period, involved 52 consignees, 47 bills of lading, 30 units of laden containers, and 45 vessel calls.
As at the time of going to press, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin-Can Island Port Area Command, Comptroller Zakari Jibril, was yet to respond to enquiries by SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
Similarly, the Customs Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent Chris Osunkwo, had also not spoken further on the issue, as he had earlier assured in his initial response to the enquiries.

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