Colonel Hameed Ali, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said on Friday that the Apapa Customs Command had intercepted 16 containers of tyres with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N116.2 million.
Ali made the disclosure at a news conference at the Apapa Customs Command in Lagos.
He said that the seizures were made as a result of false declaration by the agents.
“The company which imported the tyres is enjoying the facility of fast track, which is given to the factory for quick processes to reduce cost and speed the time.
“Some of those materials can be perishable and this is why Customs give some factory the facility to move their containers and thereafter Customs officers will go and inspect the consignments in their factories.
“For now, there is not going to be anything like Debit Note raised for goods being identified as falsely declared,’’ Ali said.
He said that all the tyres in 16 containers were automatically seized and the law allows customs to prosecute whoever is involved in importation of the consignments.
Ali said that if it was discovered later that some officers were involved, such officers would be prosecuted along with the clearing agents.
He said that it had been specified in the Customs laws that seized goods would be destroyed after getting court order.
“We have 16 containers of new tyres on ground while 10 containers of the tyres with false declaration had been moved out of the port.
“We are now investigating and we will track the whereabouts of those containers, although the agents had lost his fast track facility and the Licence automatically,’’ Ali said.
He said that customs officials at Federal Operations Unit were able to arrest an agent along with the seizure.
The comptroller-general of Customs, however, warned agents to be sure of any importer they want to assist in clearing goods, adding that “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse’’.
He said that the moment an agent made an entry on any document and signed that document, such agent had taken ownership of the consignment about to be cleared from ports.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), the Customs Area Controller (CAC) Apapa Command, Comptroller Willy Egbudin, said that the containers were falsely declared as paper board and machines for steel industry.
Egbudin said that a beneficiary of fast track, a company named B and E Ltd. located at Ikeja, Lagos, owns 16 containers of the goods falsely declared.
He said that two of the 16 containers were intercepted by the Enforcement unit of the Customs along Ikeja.
“Officers discovered that the consignments were not paper board and machines but found to be tyres and one of the agents was arrested and detained.
“The agent made false declaration to evade payment of customs duties and refused the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) interception.
“SON actually needs to issue clearance to the agent to certify that those tyres are fit before the release.
“We will continue to do our best, although most of the agents had refused to comply with rules that govern clearance procedures,’’ Egbudin told NAN.
A suspect, who was apprehended along with the seized containers, Mr Dominic Obijaku, said he did not know what were in the containers.
Obijaku said one of his boys gave him the job, saying that he had never been involved in a fast track job since he had been practising the profession as a clearing agent.
“Fast track clearance is not a normal clearance because it does not come regularly like any other clearance,’’ he said.
Obijaku, however, said that this was his first time of clearance of fast track consignments, adding that he got to know about the job when he collected the document for stamping.