Customs Intercept Truck Carrying Over 200,000 Live Ammunition In Niger State

Customs Generate Historic Revenue Figure Of N1trn
File photo

 

The Nigerian Customs Service has impounded a truck loaded with over 200,000 live ammunition reportedly being smuggled into the country from Benin Republic.

The truck was intercepted by men of the service on patrol in Babana, a border town between Niger State and Benin Republic, with the items concealed under a false bottom constructed in the vehicle.

Read Also: Fire Injures Several Persons Scooping Fuel In Niger State

Two suspects, the driver of the truck and a man who gave his name as Martin Anokwara, have been arrested in connection to the crime.

According to Mr Anokwara, he bought the items from a dealer in Cotonou on credit so that he could sell to hunters in Onitsha, Anambra State.

The comptroller of the Customs Service, Niger, Kwara and Kogi Commands, Benjamin Binga who spoke to Channels Television, commended the alertness demonstrated by his men.

Illegal Importation Of Arms: FG Arraigns Five

The Federal Government on Wednesday arraigned five men for allegedly importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country without lawful authority.

The arms were intercepted by the Nigerian Customs on January 30 2017.

The accused persons, Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said be at large, and Salihu Danjuma, were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

In the charge, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said the accused brought the rifles into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.

According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, falsely claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China.

The prosecution also alleged that the first accused, Hassan, corruptly gave one million Naira to government officials at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.

The offences were said to be contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(14) (a)(i) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

Consequently, the prosecuting counsel, K.A. Fagbemi, applied for a date to commence trial but urged the court to order that the accused should be remanded in the prison custody pending trial.

Justice Faji adjourned the case to September 12, 2017 for definite hearing and ordered that the accused be remanded in the prison custody.

Customs Intercept Arms At Lagos Port

The Nigerian Customs says its operatives have intercepted another container laden with arms at the Tin Can Island Port in Lagos.

It was gathered that 440 assorted firearms were found in the container which was imported from Turkey and the terminal where the container was found has been shut down.

While an investigation is still ongoing, one suspect has been arrested.

Nigeria Customs Service in January 2017 seized 661 pump action rifles imported into the country illegally from China.

The rifles were concealed with steel doors and other merchandize goods in a 40 feet container, and were later handed over to the Nigerian military.

I Won’t Appear Before Senate Until Court Ruling – Customs CG

customsReprieve may have come for the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), who was ordered to appear in complete uniform before the Senate on March 22.

The development, follows a suit filed by an Abuja based lawyer, Mohammed Ibrahim, seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly from compelling the CG to wear uniform in performance of his duties.

Mr Ali, who acknowledged receipt of the court summons, told a news conference that the Attorney General who is a co-defendant in the suit, has written to the National Assembly advising lawmakers to maintain the status quo, pending the outcome of the suit.

“Based on the summons before the court, all matters relating to the issue are now subjudice so status quo is “anti” which means I will not appear until the court makes a pronouncement therefore the situation remains as it is”.

The CG had been summoned to defend the payment of retroactive duties by motorists whose vehicles have no genuine import duties.

Although he eventually appeared before the Senate on March 16, he made good on his word of not appearing in his uniform.

The House, however, refused to engage him and fixed another date (March 22), for him to appear as required; failure to which the Senate leadership might be forced to issue an arrest warrant as initially threatened.

Meanwhile, more reactions have continued to trail the issue.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, in a statement condemned the summoning of Mr Ali.

He said that although the Senate should not be treated with disdain, the Upper Chamber should have appreciated the limit of its powers under the constitution.

According to Mr Falana, instead of playing into the hands of the Customs boss by invoking the provision of Section 88 of the Constitution, the Senate could have summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to justify the policy of the Nigeria Customs Service, a parastatal under her supervision.

“No power exists under the section for general investigation, not for personal aggrandizement of the House. So the appellants were not entitled to have invited the respondent in the first instance,” Mr Falana said.

Customs Officials Allegedly Kill Driver In Ogun State

Customs Justifies Raid On Warehouses Suspected For Smuggled GoodsThere was pandemonium in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) allegedly shot dead a commercial driver while pursuing suspected smugglers.

The Customs officers were said to have killed Saubana Onila, a father of four, at Sowo village, along the Kobape-Siun-Sagamu expressway when he was conveying bags of rice to some customers in Sagamu.

As a result of this development, scores of protesters stormed the state headquarters of the NCS along Quarry Road in Abeokuta, threatening to dump the remains of the late transporter within the premises.

The Public Relations Officer of the Ogun Area Command, Usman Abubakar, however denied that the claims that the Customs killed anybody in the operation.

Abubakar maintained that the importation of rice through the land border had been banned, urging members of the public to support the agency in the fight against smuggling.

He told journalists that investigation into the incident was ongoing.

“The information at my disposal is that one of our patrol teams went on routine patrol this morning along Kobape-Sagamu Interchange. Based on credible information to them that some smugglers were coming through that route, they waylaid the smugglers.

“On sighting Customs vehicle, the occupants of those vehicles now started on top speed. In the course of the operation, one of the vehicles fell into a ditch. The occupants of that vehicle left and ran away. Our men now brought the vehicle down to Abeokuta station. So, that is the information I have.

“There was no shootout with anybody. Our men have no cause to shoot anybody. They are well trained and they operate according to international best practices.

“When they pursued those smugglers, there was a rat race between the drivers of those vehicles. Immediately the first one fell into a ditch, our men picked the vehicle and left others. So there was no shootout between our men and anybody.

“The police have been invited, we are on top of the situation. The matter is under investigation by the Customs and the police. So, after a thorough investigation, we will now give you full details of what happened.”

It was gathered that Saubana, who was formerly the Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Grammar School Unit, Abeokuta, had conveyed some bags of rice from the popular Kuto park in the state capital enroute Sagamu.

An eyewitness, Sola Josiah, on the other hand, claimed that the Customs men shot at the late driver’s Mazda 626 car which made him to lose control, forcing the vehicle to somersault several times.

He alleged that the Customs men further shot the driver in cold blood and escaped from the scene.

Also according to him, four other people who sustained injuries in the incident, had been taken to a hospital for medical attention.

The state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, however led a team of senior officers to the area to restore normalcy.

 

Senate Opposes Ban On Vehicle Importation Through Land Borders

Senate Opposes Ban On Importation Of Vehicles Through Land BordersThe Senate is asking the Nigeria Customs Service to suspend, with immediate effect, the policy of an outright ban on vehicle importation through land borders.

A federal lawmaker, Senator Jubrin Barau, drew the attention of the Senate to the recent federal government policy.

He argued that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through the country’s borders as the policy would lead to the loss of nearly 500,000 jobs by people who import vehicles.

Lawmakers who spoke shared the same position.

After the debate, the Senate demanded a suspension of the policy which took effect from January 1, 2017.

The Senate also directed its committee on Customs to investigate the circumstances which led to this recent policy decision of the federal government.

The Nigerian Customs Service already kicked off with the implementation of the policy with officers deployed to man targeted smuggling routes mainly around the Seme border.

Illegal checkpoints and routes were dismantled while the Customs officers looked to work closely with anti-smuggling units of the NCS and that of the federal operations unit.

Nigerian Customs Begins Vehicle Ban On Land Borders

Nigerian Customs Begins Vehicle Ban On Land BordersThe Nigerian Customs Service has kicked off with the implementation of government’s ban on vehicles importation through land borders.

The policy took effect on January 1 with officers deployed to man targeted smuggling routes mainly around the Seme border.

Media reports also say illegal checkpoints and routes have been dismantled while the Customs officers look to work closely with anti-smuggling units of the NCS and that of the federal operations unit.

However, Nigerian licensed Customs agents are calling for a three-month grace period before the implementation.

Customs Explains Duty Charges On Imported Vehicles

Customs Explains Duty Charges On Imported VehiclesPublic Relations Officer of the Nigerian Customs, Mr Wale Adeniyi, has explained what gave rise to the ban on importation of vehicles to Nigeria.

Mr Adeniyi who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Dialy, said the revenue from vehicles have accounted for 20% of the yearly revenue from the past 5 years, making it one of the top 3 performers.

According to him, this dwindled in the last 3 years, from about 144 billion in 2014 to about 86 billion Naira in 2016, which greatly affected the revenue base of the Nigerian Customs Service.

“The Federal Government looked into the matter and came up with steps to tackle it.

“Due to the diversions at the border, the Nigerian government got into an agreement with the Beninois government on international transit protocols”.

He then explained that this agreement was later breached by the Beninois government as Custom revenue was not remitted.

Hence, in order to protect national interest, the Government took the decision that Nigerian cargo should come to Nigerian ports.

He explained that as opposed to the believe that cars have been banned, “people don’t want to go with structure as regards paying the correct tariffs and therefore abandon the seaports for the borders”.

Adeniyi admitted there could be corrupt practices within the Customs, but smugglers pay the Benin charges and avoid the Nigerian Seaports in order to break even.

Furthermore, he also revealed that a new tax has been placed on new vehicles from South Africa, while 35% charge on new vehicles are being channeled to a particular subhead, dedicated to the development of the Automotive Industry.

“This charge doesn’t get to the federation account, but the National Automotive Account. This charge is only on new vehicles,” he stressed.

The Customs spokesperson also added that there is no difference between using the Nigerian seaport and that of the Benin republic, as the statutory charges are the same. The only difference according to him, is the people’s evasion of the Nigerian charges.

Adeniyi however said that the neighboring ports are more friendly considering the charges at the Nigerian ports, access roads, bank issues and cumbersome processes which make it a bit tedious and also contributes to why people find it easier using the Benin ports.

Also, he said that the 30-day grace was enough for the people to make adjustments.

Furthermore, he said charges can be reviewed if considered too high but Nigerians are advised to discharge their responsibilities and obligations as good citizens before holding the authorities accountable for the revenue collected.

 

FG Committee Donates Seized Bags Of Rice To Borno IDPs

female-idp-cookingThe National Logistics Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), has donated seized bags of rice to the Borno state government, for onward distribution to victims of insurgency.

The exercise was carried out by the Nigerian Customs, as part of government’s plan to cushion the effect of the insurgency on citizens.

The donation consisted of 11,517 bags of rice, seized and declared contraband by law.

The Assistant Comptroller General, Umar Sanusi, explaining the source of the donation said: “This rice did not come from heaven – actually these were seized at the border and any other place where there was infraction against the federal government.

“So these are products caught by the Nigerian Customs and condemned by the court of law and forfeited to the government for distribution to people affected by insurgency.”

Mr Umar furthermore said that more items including clothing, should be expected in the coming weeks as the harmattan and yuletide approaches.

In his acceptance remarks, Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, explained that the state is overwhelmed by the alarming number of IDPs, especially those living in the host communities.

“IDP camps in Maiduguri consists only 158,000 people. In the satellite camps across the state in Pulka, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Bama, Banki, Biu and Monguno the total number of people may not exceed 300,000.

“But within the host community here in Maiduguri we have over a million people on the verge of extinction.

“The food security challenge being faced by the IDPs living within the host community is more precarious than those living in camps.

“To me, they are the VIPs, at least they are getting two meals per day but those living in the host community are in far worse shape than we could imagine,” Shettima stated.

He called for more support to make life easier for the displaced.

FMBN Requests Duty Waivers On Building Materials

FMBN, Duty waivers, building materialsThe Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), has appealed to the Nigerian Customs, to grant it duty waivers on building materials.

The materials are being imported for the construction of the mass housing projects which was started four years ago in Abuja, the nation’s capital city.

Acting Managing Director of the bank, Mr Richard Esin, made the appeal during an official visit to the office of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hamid Ali.

He said that the bank is developing 95 housing estates across the country.

Mr Ali has, however, said that the Nigerian Customs will only grant the waiver if it is approved by the Presidency.

Senate Begins Investigations Into Operations Of Tincan, Seme Area Commands

senateThe Nigerian Senate has commenced a thorough investigation into operations of the Tin-Can Island and Seme Area Commands, as part of efforts to plug leakages in the Nigeria Customs Service.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Exercise and Tariff, Senator Hope Uzodinma, hinted reporters of the investigation during a three-day oversight visit to the various commands in Lagos.

According to him, the committee, with mandate from the Senate, embarked on the fact finding mission in view of several petitions received from stakeholders on alleged corrupt practices in the service.

He added that the Senate would continue to work to help reposition the Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in view of the need to focus on non-oil revenue generation to fund the country’s annual budget with a deficit of over 2 trillion Naira.

“There is now a national call to duty for all of us irrespective of where you are and where you are working from to come up and contribute your own quota so that the economy can be rescued.

“So, our target is to be able to triple the revenue earnings of Nigerian Customs in 2017 and to be able to do that we have to identify the obstacles otherwise the challenges confronting the Nigerian Customs Service so that once they are identified they will amplify, increase or enhance the revenue earning mechanism of the service so that by 2017 Nigerian Customs will be in the position to even fund the national budget.

“There are opportunities and the traffic is very high but some of the challenges are also avoidable so we are looking at all these areas and that at the end of the exercise, we would have strengthened the process of revenue generation in the Nigerian Customs Service and also boost their profile in a manner that they will be happy and government will be happy. It will be a win-win situation for everybody”.

Police Nab Fake Assistant Comptroller Of Customs

ogun police, Nigerian customsA 55-year-old man who claims to be an Assistant Comptroller of the Nigerian Customs Service has been arrested by the police.

The man arrested in Ogun State, police say, has duped unsuspecting Nigerians.

Mr Ariyo Wasiu, a resident of Lagos island was said to have been dismissed six years ago from the mechanic department of the customs for an act of indiscipline.

According to the police, the dismissed officer was arrested while allegedly perfecting his act at a company in Agbara area of Ogun State in south-west Nigeria

The spokesman for the police in Ogun State, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, said investigation had begun to determine the culpability or otherwise of the fake Assistant Comptroller of Customs.

He said charges would be filed after investigations.

Upon interrogation, the suspect, however, claimed that he was lured into duping as a result of the current harsh economic reality.