The Eyewitness reporter
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday has ordered the remand of one Philip Elue, an alleged importer of a 1 X 40ft container, laden with 86 packs of Cannabis Sativa, popularly called Indian Hemp.
In urging the court for the order, Mrs. Bode-Ayeni told the court that the application was pursuant to Section 294 and 295 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; Section 8 and 181 Of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C46 L.F.N. 2004; Sections 6 (6), 35 (1)(c), (5) and (7)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and
Order 46 Rule 4(d) of the Federal High Court Rules.
Mrs. Bode-Ayeni also told the court that the remand order against the respondent is for 14 days, till the conclusion of the Customs investigation into a case of conspiracy, unlawful importation of cannabis Sativa (colorado) and improper importation which are prohibited items, which is contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, L.F.N. 2004 and Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, LFN 2004.
Mrs. Bode-Ayeni supported her arguments with an affidavit deposed to by M. A. Kayode, a litigation officer in the legal department of the Nigeria Customs Services.
Justice Aluko, after listening to Mrs. Bode-Ayeni’s submissions held that the application has merit and the same is granted accordingly.
Justice Aluko adjourned the matter till August 31, for the report of investigation.
Nigeria Customs Services in an affidavit in support of the application, stated that on June 15, 2022, its enforcement unit officers, Apapa, were detailed by the Area Controller, based on credible intelligence, to monitor a 1X40ft Container No. TGBU 98965313, laden with 86 packs of Cannabis Sativa, aboard a ship.
And upon examination of the container, it was discovered that cannabis Sativa was concealed in two plastic drums, found inside a 2010 Mercedes Benz 4matic jeep.
It was further stated that the investigation led to the arrest of the respondent, who detailed other co-accomplices who were involved in the importation and manipulation of records and Customs documents to facilitate the unlawful importation, and they are being trailed by officers of the NCS.
The Service also stated that efforts are being intensified by the operatives of the Enforcement Unit of the Customs Area Command, Tin can port, to arrest Collins Osamar and Ifeanyi Nwogo who were actively involved in the importation of the illicit drugs and to aid their criminal intentions.
The service also stated that an investigation into the case cannot be completed within 24 or 48 hours as stipulated by the Constitution for which the operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service can lawfully detain the Respondent in their custody.
And that it is necessary to seek the order of the court to “remand the respondent herein, pending the conclusion of the investigation and likely prosecution in the court of law,
The service stated that releasing the respondent on bail will interfere with the ongoing investigation and would likely hamper a proper investigation.
Tin Can Customs nets N574.3 billion in 2022 —–records N242.365 billion in exports
Oloyede said the figure represented an increase of N80.90 billion or 16.39 percent when compared with N493.4 billion recorded in 2021.
“This feat can be attributed to the constant rejigging of the existing measures geared toward sustaining the command’s revenue profile.
“It is as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as: periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation,” he said.
He noted that the command also ensured robust and continuous stakeholder engagements and collaborations with all sister government agencies and maritime associations.
“These led to timely intelligence sharing, utilisation and voluntary compliance to government’s extant laws by the trading public,” Oloyede said.
He added that the command increased surveillance on declarations made in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items.
He pointed out that the system paid off with the command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.85 billion.
“These seizures comprise 763kgs of Colorado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.6 million only as given by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5,060 pieces).
“Also among seized items are 1,150 bales of second-hand clothing, 1,190 cartons of 20 per carton of potassium bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1,200 per carton Pharmacol injection chloroquine phosphate 322.5mg.5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished machetes.
“Also, 1,383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2,666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter Ex-Premium Inverter Battery, 1,980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1,048 cartons of Tilda basmati rice,” he said.
Oloyede listed others as 2,594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, six Mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types.
He said that the seizures when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a Debit Note of N607.27 only, show an increase of 11 seizures and N1.24 billion.
He said that the increase in the DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, the high value of seized items and Naira depreciation that led to higher exchange rates on imported items.
“These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the provision of Sections 46 and 161 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022- 2026.
“The command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, Federal Operations Unit, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made.
“A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the command has 8 cases pending in court,” he said.
Oloyede said the command recorded a significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589,696,648 (N242,365,322,333.00) as against the $496,075,796 (N141,985,109,159.00) recorded in 2021.
He attributed the increase of 34.4 percent in the FOB to the high quality and value of exported commodities.
“However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986.8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022.
“The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current government fiscal policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrest with its concomitant economic challenges,” he said
He listed the commodities exported through the command to include: cocoa beans, insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminum ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items.
“Cocoa beans were the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity.
“The future of export in the command looks brighter as the command in line with the headquarter circular on Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command’s harmonised SOP for the seamless facilitation of Export Trade in strict compliance with Extant Laws and guidelines on Export,” he said.
”No container will leave Apapa Port without 100 percent physical examination”
declares Auwal Mohammed as he takes over as new Apapa Customs Area controller
—promises to surpass N1 trillion revenue mark
—vows not to facilitate non-compliant traders
The Eyewitness reporter
Despite the deployment of cargo scanning machines, the new area comptroller of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, has vowed that no container shall leave the Apapa port without a 100 percent physical examination.
Comptroller Mohammed, who formally took over the mantle of leadership of the command Friday, 27th, January 2023, from Ag. Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs(ACG) Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the decision to subject all cargo to physical examination was meant to account for every content of container passing through the command and to maximize revenue returns to the Federal Government.
He, therefore, warned non-compliant traders to steer clear of the command as he would not facilitate their trade as he desired to surpass the one trillion revenue mark achieved by the command under the former area controller Yusuf.
”We shall continue to conduct 100 percent physical examination of cargo so that we can account for all the cargo in the containers and to generate more revenue so that we can surpass the one trillion revenue collection that the command has already achieved. No package, no container should leave Apapa port without a proper 100 percent physical examination.” the new Comptroller told his officers who had gathered to welcome him.
He continued ”Today marks another era in the history of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service. I am inheriting a well-structured area command. The level of achievements and status achieved under my predecessor will be sustained while I will look for all means to surpass them.
I am ready for the job. I am aware of the big shoe I am stepping into but I am well prepared for it”, Comptroller Mohammad said.
He, therefore, asked the officers to be at their utmost best to cooperate and work with him to sustain and surpass the legacies of his predecessor.
He also solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders whom he promised to engage with and updated frequently on all issues and policies that will enhance their trade and performance of the command.
The new helmsman also charged all the releasing officers and the image analysts who will be conducting the scanning of cargo to be diligent and exhibit the utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism in their duty so as not to release uncustomed goods.
Mohammed, who was redeployed from Onne Port Area Command when he was the area controller, also enjoined the importers and their agents to be compliant with the cargo clearance procedural processes in order to enjoy a seamless cargo release.
”The goods clearance procedure is simple. Everything starts and ends with declaration and if there is a proper and correct declaration of cargo, there won’t be any need for delay and unnecessary interference with the process”, he admonished.
Earlier, the outgoing Area Controller, Ag. Yusuf, while handling over the operations and procedures of the command to his successor, solicited the support and cooperation of all the officers and other stakeholders for the new helmsman, urging them to avail the new comptroller of the same level of support, guidance, and cooperation and advice they gave him.
He also lauded the untiring efforts of his officers whom he said were instrumental in the monumental achievements recorded by the command under his watch.
Consequently, some officers who excelled in the discharge of their duties were commended and awarded certificates of merit, including the indefatigable Public Relations officer of the Command, CSC Abubakar Usman.
Hameed Ali, Customs boss, in last minute frenzied promotion, reshuffle of officers
In the new posting, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed was moved from Port Harcourt Area 2 command to head Apapa Command vacated by the revenue czar in the service, ACG Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf.
Others include Compt OA Salefu who now heads Western Marine Command Lagos, Compt AM Ibrahim heads PTML Terminal Lagos and Compt M.S Yusuf superintendents over the Muritala Muhammed Airport command in Lagos.
Compt CD Wada goes to Port Harcourt Area1 command as its Area Controller, while M.I Jalo heads Federal Operations Unit Zone B while B . Mohammed heads Lillypond command in Lagos.
The promotions and reshuffle of officers have however elicited mixed reactions among the Customs officers.
For those who benefited from the parting gift of Hammed Ali, it was a welcome development, but for those who hold the short end of the stick in the exercise, it left a sour taste in their mouth.
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