20 Containers Of Expired Tomatoes Impounded By Customs
By Ebenezer William
Ports and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) have seized 20 containers × 20ft of expired tomatoes in Lagos.
This information was laid bare to newsmen in a briefing by the Acting Comptroller – General Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi at PTML, Lagos.
The Ag. Comptroller General who described this seizure as historic was in high spirits as he narrated what would have been the effect of such goods on the health of innocent Nigerians if officers and men of NCS had not been vigilant enough to uncover such unprecedented criminality of smugglers.
Here are the excerpts of the address of the Ag. CGC
“Before I delve into the details, let me emphasize that operations of this nature align perfectly with the goals I have set for the Nigeria Customs Service under my leadership. Our primary objectives are to curb smuggling, safeguard national revenue, ensure the security of our nation, and promote legitimate trade and businesses.”
“On the 8th of August, 2023, during a routine examination, our vigilant officers at PTML uncovered a cache of expired tomato concentrate, deemed unsafe for human consumption. The audacity of the smugglers to attempt to introduce this hazardous product into the Nigerian market is both shocking and disheartening.”
“These expired tomato concentrates were concealed within 20 containers, each falsely declared as containing almond shells, all under the auspices of a company identified as Nikecristy Investment Limited. In each container, 80 drums were meticulously arranged, amounting to a total of 1,600 drums. The duty paid value of this illegal cargo is a staggering sum of one hundred and sixteen million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-five naira, seventy-three kobo (#116,211,725.73).”
“The container numbers involved in this illicit operation are as follows: ACLU 2790243, GCNU 1275582, GCNU 1303278, GCNU 1336137, GCNU 1361905, GCNU 1316824, GCNU 1323314, GCNU 1324727, GCNU 1326210, SEGU 3388813, ACLU 2800629, GCLU 13218553, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1302570, GCNU 1308140, SEGU 3333426, and SEGU 3338351. As of now, all these containers remain in our custody, officially recorded as seizures. We have apprehended one suspect, Mr. Okonkwo Oliver Izunna, who is currently under administrative bail but remains under investigation.”
“This seizure, which was processed through three separate single good declarations (SGDs) forms, is a testament to our unwavering commitment to maximally suppress smuggling and our determination to safeguard the lives of Nigerian citizens by intercepting dangerous imports such as these.”
“The actions taken by those involved in this unlawful activity contravene the provisions of sections 228(1) and (2), 55 (c and d), and 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. Additionally, it directly violates Schedule 4, item 14 of the Common External Tariff (CET) 2022-2026.”
” I would like to take this opportunity to send a stern warning to importers and their agents, urging them to steer clear of unlawful practices such as false declarations aimed at evading duties or smuggling prohibited goods into our country.”
“The audacious attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market is heartless and inexcusable. I want to assure you that our officers and personnel will always remain vigilant, diligently scrutinizing all import and export consignments passing through our seaports, airports, border stations, dry ports, and terminals nationwide.”
” It is essential to reiterate that compliant automobile importers and their agents can now expect streamlined clearance processes, with consignments being cleared within three hours when importations adhere to our regulations, involve honest declarations, and prompt payment of customs duties.”
Furthermore, the Ag. CGC implored all importers and their agents to act patriotically by making honest declarations.
He reminded stakeholders that compliance brings numerous benefits, including building a reputation for integrity, saving time and money by avoiding demand notices and penalties, and staying out of legal troubles that could lead to imprisonment, loss of licenses, and blacklisting.
The Ag. The comptroller-general also assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to collaborate with the press and other government agencies to frustrate the activities of smugglers in the country.