Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Comptroller Muhammed Dahiru Umar has again warned truck drivers and owners against exporting unprocessed timbers out of the country.
Dahiru handed down this warning after releasing 40 trucks belonging to members of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) it impounded last year on Wednesday.
The trucks, according to the Customs boss were impounded for carrying unprocessed timbers for export.
He thereby warned truck drivers to be weary of unprocessed timbers especially if it was to be exported out of the country stating that unprocessed timber is on the import prohibition list of the Service.
“They (truck owners) should be careful in what they carry especially unprocessed timber. They should caution their drivers or representatives from carrying unprocessed timber except they are sure that the unprocessed timber is going to a mill in Nigeria,” he warned.
The Controller noted that the Service released the trucks to the association after thorough investigation showed that the truck drivers\owners are not complicit of the alleged crime.
Umar said, “Those trucks were carrying unprocessed timbers which are prohibited by law from being exported out of the country. The headquarters had however released a circular that trucks carrying containerised goods prohibited for import and export be released to the owners after thorough investigation.
“So investigation have been conducted, culprits have been arrested and charged to court so we are following headquarters’ circular that the trucks should be released to the owners,”
Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi in a statement sent to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY weekend express appreciation to the Customs management team for their magnanimity in releasing the trucks of his members.
“The Customs management had in his magnanimity release over 40 trucks belonging to our members arrested for carrying unprocessed wood for export. On behalf of the association, I wish to express our profound appreciation to the management of the NCS including the Controller at FOU and his team,” he said.
He stated that henceforth, his members would ask cargo owners to complete indemnity form before their consignment could be picked.
“Henceforth, there will be an indemnity form for either agents or cargo owners to fill before our members could help them move their goods. It was for the magnanimity of Customs and thank God they identified that we do not know about the exportation of this unprocessed timber,” he stated.
Recall that the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) earlier in the week dragged a Chinese, Zhu Jinxin, to a federal high Court in Lagos for allegedly attempting to export several logs of wood that was under prohibited list.
The prosecution said he brought the wood in a container to Tin-Can Port for export to China.
Customs said he did so notwithstanding an export prohibition on the wood which was in force at the time.
The alleged offence, according to customs, was contrary to Section 64(1)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
It was learnt that Nigeria and 10 other countries in West Africa have lost $65.3billion to China on illegal rosewood trade in the last one year.
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