By Aisha Cole
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Friday said it had intercepted two helicopters and 23 consignments of accessories illegally imported into the country.
Mr Dan Ugo, a Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, told newsmen in Lagos that the two helicopters and accessories, valued at N9.7 billion, were impounded at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport.
“The consignment was detained at SAHCOL cargo shed. Upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models of Bell Helicopters 412 EP, with serial numbers 36608 and 36606.
“The consignment also contains 23 packages of accessories, weighing 11,475kg,” the customs boss said.
He said that the two helicopters and other accessories were seized because the importer could not provide End User Certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Ugo said that the importer had contravened Section 36 (2) of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
According to him, the consignment, which was impounded on Nov. 7, 2016, had a Duty Paid Value of N9, 757,135,240.86.
“This equipment was seized because the importer contravened the Customs Act.
“The Comptroller General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, in appreciation of the roles of Air Force has directed that the equipment should be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
“When we make seizures, we go through legal process by approaching the court of competent jurisdiction to file for condemnation and forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria, which had been done.
“This falls within the purview of the Nigerian Air Force which will put it to use maximally to protect us as a nation,’’ Ugo said.
He called for continuous synergy between the customs and other government agencies for the safety and security of the nation.
Ugo commended the customs officers who made the seizure and assured them of continued moral support from the customs service.
Air Commodore Hyacinth Eze received the consignment on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.
Eze commended the Customs for a job well-done.
“The handing over of these helicopters by Nigerian Customs would go a long way to assist the force,’’ he said.
Eze said that the actual physical examination of the consignment would be done at Nigerian Air Force Base.
Also speaking, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), MMIA command Comptroller Frank Allanah, said that the command generated N55.5 billion between January and December 2016, compared to N42.7 billion collected in the corresponding period of 2015.
Allanah said that the N12.8 billion increase in revenue was recorded in spite of decline in cargo throughput from 76.9 metric tonnes in 2015 to 64.63 metric tonnes in 2016.
He said that the command, in 2016, also made seizures of elephant tusks and foreign currencies.