Lagos importer in N116m seaport fraud scandal

The Apapa command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has indicted a Lagos based importer in a N116 million under-declaration fraud. This is even as 16 containers belonging to the importer had been impounded.

Disclosing this at the weekend when the Comptroller General of the NCS, Colonel Hameed Ali (retd) came visiting the command on his way from Cotonou in Benin Republic, the Customs Area Controller Apapa, Willy Egbudin explained that his command has impounded the 16 containers brought into the country by the importer and would commence criminal charges against the firm.

According to him, “my command got a tip off on July 26, 2016 that 16 containers laden with tyres at the port were falsely declared as paper board and industrial machinery and were about to be moved. So, I immediately gave out order that the containers be impounded. On Friday, 29th, the containers were intercepted at the gate. They were taken to enforcement while the clearing agent working for the importer took to his heels.”

The CAC further explained that the agent later came back and when investigation was done by the Customs it was discovered that all the consignments were car tyres.

“We then profiled the importer and discovered that the total number of the containers was 26, and that the importer had taken delivery of 10 falsely declared containers. The agent was thereby detained while efforts are on to track the importer,” Egdudin added.

The CAC also stated that if the containers had scaled through, a total amount of N116, 284.740 duty would have been lost by the Customs.

Cautioning agents who connive with importers to defraud the country as taking a big risk as the same punishment will be extended to them, the Customs CG warned importers who abuse the fast track facility given to them by the service to be ready to face the music as they would not escape the long arm of the law.

“Anybody in this crime will be brought to book. Once you falsely declare and we discover it, it is automatic seizure. Whoever is involved will face the law and if there is any officer that connived with the importer he will be prosecuted and the minimum jail term is five years,” the CG warned.