25th May, 2012
As a fallout of the cancelled benchmark scheme on imported items, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) few days ago clampdown on containers with false declaration, making seizure of N101 billion worth of items at the Apapa port.
The Customs high command cancelled the benchmark scheme, under which importers could have paid the same duty on containers irrespective of their content and their value, when it was confronted with so much criticism.
The customs then insisted on the full implementation of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) to ensure that imported items are accurately declared for clearance at the gateways by the importers.
Last week, the Nigeria Customs Service made good its threat with the seizure of seven containers, which were wrongly declared apparently to avoid full duty payment by the owners.
At a media briefing in Lagos, the Apapa Command’s Customs Area Controller, Yusuf Adamu Garko said the seized containers, which consisted various goods were imported into the country with alleged forged import documents and false declaration of description and quantity with the intention of evading the payment of correct customs duties.
According to him, the items seized were discovered through intelligence report, scanning and proper documentation in the process of their clearance.
The items seized include: 1x 20’ container of batteries, 1 x 20’ container of used engines, 1 x 40’ container of used Hiace bus containing 75 cartons of deodorant spray and various auto parts, and 2 x 40’ containers of new electronics including LCD televisions, Hi-Fi sound systems, blue ray players and many more.
The area comptroller noted that the seizure was the biggest ever made this year, adding that at the beginning of the fiscal year, the command sounded a warning to all importers to be at their best behaviour while conducting their official businesses.
“While we have noted that a good number of importers and their agents are complying, we also observed that there are die hard mischiefmakers that are hell bent on circumventing the law. We have, therefore, decided to be unrelenting in pursuing all those, who refuse to comply with import rules and guidelines,” he said.
Garko said that two suspects have been arrested in connection with these imports, adding that his command has commenced the process that will culminate into their prosecution.