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Seized containers of imported cutlasses generates dust

As Customs list goods ‘instrument of war’ without EUC


Controversy has dodged the detention and claim of seizure of eight containers of imported cutlasses by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS. This is coming on the backdrop of customs labeling the cutlasses ‘weapons of war.’

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The Customs Area Controller, CAC, Tin Can Island Command, Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede who labeled the brand new cutlasses seized by his command as weapons of war, said only the National Security Adviser, NSA, can overturn the decision of the service.

But the seizure has pitched the customs with some stakeholders who argued that as an agricultural nation driven by primitive system, cutlasses and machetes are legal farm tools, and faulted the posture of the customs service and the office of the national security adviser, describing it as high handedness, insensitive and oppressive.

Commenting on the matter, a port user, Damascus Iwuchukwu, not real name, said that as an agricultural nation with majority of the rural farmers using primitive and traditional implements such as cutlasses, its seizure and labeling same as weapon of war is unacceptable.

Addressing reporters in his office recently, the Tin Can Island Customs boss said the eight containers, amounting to 206,000 pieces, were unscrupulously laden with cutlasses.

He further labeled the consignment as unapproved for not having an End-User-Certificate, EUC, from the Office of the National Security Adviser, and declared that the consignments stands seized; unless the importer obtains a EUC which approval alone he claim can confer on the items legal authority and also the legal validity to trade in them, and or, for whatsoever other means they were intended for.

He said, “Bringing in this quantum of machetes at a time this country is passing through serious security challenges means that they are instrument of war. At our level here, this items stands seized, unless the importer gets a EUC from the NSA.  Maybe that is the only authority that can decide otherwise.”

Explaining further, Oloyede said at the point of arrest, the import contravened Sections 46, 47 and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004.

But Iwuchukwu faulted the customs position as not only deficient in logic but untenable in law of legal morality and customs trade laws.  He argued that as an agricultural state, cutlasses remain a legal and integral part of our traditional national life.

His words: “The law of demand and supply determines what a trader can buy and sell without obstacles and barriers deliberately being erected. When the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, neither provides a trader the fund or the foreign exchange why would CBN and Office of the National Security Adviser put a limitation on a trader’s capacity, ie requirement of End User Certificate for the importation of machetes, cutlasses and matches.

“Ordinarily these are simple traditional farming tools. There is no average farmer especially in Southern Nigeria who goes to farm during a farming season without these two indispensable farming tools, the machetes, cutlass and matches. Today both the machetes, or cutlass and the matches requires End User Certificate before importation ,  where in the world today is machetes, cutlasses and matches designated as a national security threat, except in the warped mental depth of deficient  security architecture like ours?

“One begin to wonder how on earth did we end up drifting like bewitched human beings without the capacity to think and reason.”



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