NANS threatens to shut down customs over foodstuffs meant for IDPs

Apapa Customs Command Nets N86B Revenue in October
Written by Maritime First

…As Customs seizes another 13 containers of Tramadol, bleaching soaps worth N3billion at Tin-Can Port***

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened to shut down Customs Command in Ikeja, Lagos if food stuffs meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are not released.

“NANS will be considering occupying the customs office on Monday, Nov. 26, to demand justice for our Diaspora Zone,’’ NANS National Public Relations Officer, Mr Bestman Okereafor, said in a statement on Saturday.

Okereafor noted that the foodstuff meant for the IDPs were purchased from Iddo Rice Market in Lagos State.

“And not from outside Nigeria with receipt to the effect, contrary to what should have constituted an act of smuggling which is against the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as stipulated under section 147, 148 and 158 of the Customs Excise Management Act, Cap C4 LFN, 2004,” he said.

Okereafor further explained that the seized items were bought by the leadership of NANS, Sierra Leone Chapter, on Oct. 27 but were confiscated by men of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ Command, Ikeja, Lagos.

“The foodstuff items were bought for the purpose of donating them to IDPs camps in Maiduguri, Ogoja and Bakassi as our little way of complimenting the efforts of Federal Government, NGOs and other well-meaning Nigerians in caring for our brothers and sisters that are victims of insurgency and other internal crisis.

“Frantic efforts have been made and letter of appeal for the release written to the Comptroller in-charge of the Zonal command; follow up has been done as well and they are yet to grant our request by releasing these items so that we can use them for the intended purpose.

“As at yesterday, they have established that they seized the items on the stated date, in the process, it was discovered that the operation team that arrested the items offloaded the items, released the vehicle conveying the items to the driver.

“While the operation team under the command had mixed our items with a golf car that was arrested at Ibadan Toll-Gate with contraband so as to make it look like a smuggled goods.

“At the discovery of this, the Zonal Co-ordinator of customs told us that they will only give us a document to show that they seized the items but they cannot release them,’’ he said..

According to him, the question now is, if rice and vegetable oil that were bought from a Nigeria market can be seized by customs as contraband, how did they enter into Nigeria and are being displayed for sale openly at Iddo Market, Lagos.

In the meantime, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Tin-Can Island Port Command, has seized 13 containers of Tramadol and bleaching creams worth about N3 billion at the Port in Lagos.

Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who paraded the seized items in Lagos, yesterday, said the 10 containers were loaded with Tramadol, Ciprofloxacin Capsules, Diclofenac Sodium Tablets, Soffeathe I.V Cannula, Sildencdil Citrate Tablets, while two containers were loaded with bleaching soaps and one contains bales of used clothing.

Ali, represented by the Deputy Comptroller, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, Mr. Augustine Chidi, said that majority of the consignments were imported from China, while two suspects have been arrested in connection with the consignment and would be made to face the wrath of the law.

He, therefore, warned importers to desist from bringing in illicit drugs, as it affects the health of the youth and tease them into criminal acts.

According to him, the seizures were in violation of the absolute prohibition list of CET 2015-2019, while the harmful bleaching creams and second-hand clothing were seized in line with the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004 Section 46 and 161.

“The Service reiterates its concerns for the health and security of Nigerians and one would better imagine the devastating effect on the life of our youths if these quantities of unwholesome drugs had found their way into the market. Not only will it lead to increased insecurity, but will also impact negatively on the health of our youths,” he added.

Ali said considering the global trend of insecurity, which can be attributed to the desperation of importers/exporters to circumvent the process by bringing in unwholesome items, the TinCan Island Command has re-jigged its operational methodology to deal with the trend.

The Customs boss said some of the seized items have been handed over to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

Additional report from Guardian NG

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Maritime First