No fewer than 15 cars and six trucks loaded with rice and other seized goods were on Thursday destroyed by a fire outbreak at the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) warehouse in Ikeja, Lagos.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered that the fire, which started at about 2pm, lasted for several hours as fire fighters battled to quell it.
Deputy Head, Lagos State Fire Service, Rasaki Musibau, while addressing newsmen, said the fire started from a burst cylinder stored under one of the a vehicle in the warehouse.
“From available information, the fire started from a burst cylinder stored under one of the vehicles and enhanced by the harmattan,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it donated 421 trailers of rice totalling 252,666 bags valued at N3.78 billion to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the last 22 months.
The Spokesman of the Service, Joseph Attah, disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday while speaking on the activities of the NCS in 2017.
Attah said that the donations were in line with a Presidential directive on the disposal of perishable seizures after due diligence of court condemnation.
He said that the donations were made in four states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Edo.
The Customs spokesman said the donations were carried out by the National Logistics Committee consisting of members from NCS, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police Force and the Federal Road Safety Commission.
Others are Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Food and Drug Administration and Control, Nigerian Television Authority, News Agency of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Red Cross.
In addition to the rice donation, Attah said that the service also donated 82,140 jerrycans of 25-litre vegetable oil valued at N985.6 million, soap worth N52.6 million in 19,491 cartons and other items including clothes.
He said that other goods were insecticides, footwears, bags and a 40-feet container of frozen tilapia fish.
Attah revealed that sustained Customs anti-smuggling efforts had kept the service warehouses filled with seizures in spite of the various donations made by the service to IDPs.
“In spite of the tonnes of rice and other relief items already transferred to the IDPs, some NCS warehouses are still filled with rice.
“This only shows that the sustained onslaught against unrepentant rice smugglers continues to yield positive results.
“The ones in the warehouses now are either awaiting court condemnation or forfeiture to the Federal Government or have already been allocated to governments of the affected states, who paid the Army Corps of Transport and Logistics for transportation of the goods to the IDPs.
“Eventually, the seized rice and other perishable items presently in the warehouses will be given to fellow Nigerians affected by the unfortunate insurgency in the North East,’’ Attah said.
On the disposal of other seized items, the Customs spokesman said the Service relied on its extant laws of Section 167(2) of Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 LFN 2004 to commence an electronic auction regime aimed at eliminating human contacts and entrenching transparency.
According to him, the portal is opened to all interested persons to bid between 12 noon on Monday to 12 noon on Wednesday of every week.
“A total of 5,454 persons registered, while 4,865 bided and 646 bidders emerged winners.
“So far, 646 vehicles were seized with N272.1 million generated as revenue for the Federal Government,” he said.
Attah said that the delay in disposing some seized goods in most government warehouses was associated with court processes after documentations and filing the court process for condemnation and forfeiture in line with the law.
He said that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, has overhauled Customs anti-smuggling units, resulting in a total of 4, 492 seizures with a duty paid value (DPV) of N12.7 billion and 207 arrests.