Court Awards N5.5bn Damages Against Customs
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has awarded damages amounting to over N5.5billion against the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Chairman, Nigerian Customs Service Board (NCSB) over their unlawful seizure of 90 containers of rice imported by a firm, Maggpiy Trading TFZE.
Maggpiy stated in its suit, claimed that on March 18, 2017, officials of the NCS invaded and sealed up its warehouse in the Tinapa Free Trade Zone (TFTZ), Calabar, containing over 90containers of rice stored in air-tight containers.
The plaintiff averred that in addition to sealing its warehouse with its content, officials of the NCS stole part of the seized rice and detained its 40 trucks, containing 317 transit containers of rice, destined for the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, without lawful justification for 120 days along Onne, Port-Harcourt road.
Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Inyang Ekwo upheld the plaintiff’s claims and held that the 1st and 2nd respondents – NCS and the Chairman, NCSB – acted unlawfully and without any justification in law.
Justice Ekwo rejected the defence raised by the NCS and the Chairman, NCSB and their attempt to justify their actions as he faulted the 1st and 2nd defendants’ claim that the plaintiff, in importing rice, acted outside its operating licence which was for the plaintiff to trade in food and beverages in Tinapa Free Trade Zone.