The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has owned up that the container carrying 661 pump-action rifles by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) A, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos Last week was moved out of the ports without examination.
Speaking at the command yesterday, spokesman of the Apapa customs command, Mr. Emmanuel Ekpa confirmed that neither physical examination nor scanning was conducted on the container before it exited the Lagos Port.
It was also confirmed that the 661 rifles was not the first time containers are exiting Apapa port without being examined.
Ekpa said that the Area Controller of Apapa Customs had summoned the terminal operator; APM Terminals and the later had confirmed that the said container was not among those dropped for examination.
On May 2016, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Maritime Command Musa Katsina had intercepted a truck conveying a 40-foot container that he alleged was moved out of the ports at midnight.
The container when examined contained used tyres that were not declared and used vehicles that were under declared leading to revenue leakages.
He had said, “This said container was not dropped for examination. I can authoritatively tell you that no examination was conducted and it was not among the list of containers to be examined the day it was released.
“When containers are brought in, it will be brought for examination or scanning to determine what it contained but nothing of such was done on this.”
When asked why it was released by the command when it was not scheduled for examination, he said, “only investigation can reveal why the container was released without scanning or examination”.
The AIG said, “The list of all containers booked for examination each day are being transmitted to customs, if APMT is to drop 200 containers in a day, it would be electronically transmitted to customs with the container numbers and officers will go for examination”
Also, contrary to insinuations that the container was meant for fast track, Ekpa said it was a normal container.
Meanwhile, clearing agents operating at the Apapa port have accused Customs officers of aiding and abetting containers leaving the port without proper examination.
The Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC) Ositachukwu Patrick said the command was notorious for container “flying”
He said “It has always being happening like that, you know that in every twelve there must be a Judas, they have there ways of accomplishing this act, I was the first person that alleged that containers were leaving the port without being examined”
“There are lapses in the customs service, sometimes you go there and they would tell you that the server is not working, the government itself is shying away from its responsibilities
“The container did not go through proper procedures. There are officers who aided and abated, the real officers were not aware of the exit of that container”
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