The Ag Comptroller General Of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi yesterday said the Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) area command intercepted a staggering 20x20ft containers filled with expired tomato concentrate, describing the seizure as unprecedented since the inception of the command.
Similarly, the CGC announced the seizure of approximately eight trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice by the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ on October 6, 2023, in addition to the interception of various other offensive goods and the recovery of underpayments; noting that the NCS will continue to support initiative that protects critical agricultural strategies by the federal while addressing the press at FOU ‘A’, the customs boss said, “I appreciate your presence here today as we address a matter of utmost significance to our nation’s economic well-being. Today’s briefing pertains to the commendable interception of approximately eight trailer loads of foreign parboiled rice by the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ on October 6, 2023.
“Agriculture, being the cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, underscores the federal government’s commitment to achieving self-sustaining growth and enhancing the quality of life for all Nigerians. In alignment with this commitment and the spirit of patriotism, our dedicated officers executed a series of operations resulting in the interception and seizure of 7,029 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice.
“These decisive actions took place at various times and locations within the border corridors of the South-Western states. The objective was twofold: to discourage potential traders from engaging in smuggling activities and to inflict financial losses on active smugglers.”
He listed other seizures within the month of September to include 25 units of vehicles (Tokunbo), 35,100 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS), 1,100 liters of diesel, 40-foot container carrying 360 bales of used clothes, 40-foot container containing 150 cartons of ladies’ handbags, 50 bales of nickers, and other falsely declared items, 20-foot container of unprocessed wood and 106 cartons of foreign frozen poultry.
Others are 55 pieces of used fridges, 110 pieces of used compressors, 148 cartons of foreign soap and 121 cartons of expired hair oil.
According to the Adeniyi: “The cumulative duty paid value of the intercepted goods amounts to an impressive One Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty-five Million, Eighty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety-eight Naira (1,755,080,898).
“Furthermore, the Unit generated Seventy-two Million, Eight Hundred and Seven Thousand, Twenty-five Naira, Eleven Kobo (N72,807,025.11) in revenue through meticulous documentary checks and the issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have paid lesser amounts than the appropriate customs duty” adding:
“Investigations into some of these seizures are ongoing. Fourteen suspects have been apprehended in connection with various offenses, including violating import/export guidelines, concealment, undervaluation, wrong classification, smuggling, and contravening policy directives.”
Speaking on the impounded tomato raw material which he said was processed through three separate single good declarations (SGDs) forms, and that a suspect, one Mr. Okonkwo Oliver Izunna has been arrested and detained in connection with the industrial large scale offensive import.
He said, “ Today, we stand before you to announce a remarkable seizure at the Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML), a seizure that marks a historic milestone in the history of the command. We have successfully intercepted and detained a staggering 20 containers filled with expired tomato concentrate, an unprecedented event since the inception of this command.
“Before I delve into the details, let me emphasize that operations of this nature align perfectly with the goals I have set for the Nigeria Customs Service under my leadership. Our primary objectives are to curb smuggling, safeguard national revenue, ensure the security of our nation, and promote legitimate trade and businesses.
“ On the 8th of August, 2023, during a routine examination, our vigilant officers at PTML uncovered a cache of expired tomato concentrate, deemed unsafe for human consumption. The audacity of the smugglers to attempt introducing this hazardous product into the Nigerian market is both shocking and disheartening.
“These expired tomato concentrates were concealed within 20 containers, each falsely declared as containing almond shells, all under the auspices of a company identified as Nikecristy Investment Limited. In each container, 80 drums were meticulously arranged, amounting to a total of 1,600 drums.
“The duty paid value of this illegal cargo is a staggering sum of one hundred and sixteen million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-five naira, seventy-three kobo (#116,211,725.73)”
He listed the container numbers as follows: ACLU 2790243, GCNU 1275582, GCNU 1303278, GCNU 1336137, GCNU 1361905, GCNU 1316824, GCNU 1323314, GCNU 1324727, GCNU 1326210, SEGU 3388813, ACLU 2800629, GCLU 13218553, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1302570, GCNU 1308140, SEGU 3333426, and SEGU 3338351. As of now, all these containers remain in our custody, officially recorded as seizures.
“We have apprehended one suspect, Mr. Okonkwo Oliver Izunna, who is currently under administrative bail but remains under investigation. This seizure, which was processed through three separate single good declarations (SGDs) forms, is a testament to our unwavering commitment to maximally suppress smuggling and our determination to safeguard the lives of Nigerian citizens by intercepting dangerous imports such as these.”
The customs helmsman who decried the continued importation and trading in dangerous food items warned those concerned to desist and engage in legitimate trade.
“The actions taken by those involved in this unlawful activity contravene the provisions of sections 228(1) and (2), 55 (c and d), and 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. Additionally, it directly violates Schedule 4, item 14 of the Common External Tariff (CET) 2022-2026.
“I would like to take this opportunity to send a stern warning to importers and their agents, urging them to steer clear of unlawful practices such as false declarations aimed at evading duties or smuggling prohibited goods into our country.
“The audacious attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market is heartless and inexcusable. I want to assure you that our officers and personnel will always remain vigilant, diligently scrutinizing all import and export consignments passing through our seaports, airports, border stations, dry ports, and terminals nationwide.”
He said that the NCS will continue to support and encourage compliant trade through friendly harmonized systems.
“It is essential to reiterate that compliant automobile importers and their agents can now expect streamlined clearance processes, with consignments being cleared within three hours when importations adhere to our regulations, involve honest declarations, and prompt payment of customs duties.
“I implore all importers and their agents to act patriotically by making honest declarations. Remember that compliance brings numerous benefits, including building a reputation for integrity, saving time and money by avoiding demand notices and penalties, and staying out of legal troubles that could lead to imprisonment, loss of licenses, and blacklisting.”