By DAPO OLAWUNI
Customs Area Controller, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Apapa Area Command, Compt Yusuf Malanta has said that the command under his watch has deployed a new system called “Forensic Manifest Management System” for tracking of all illicit transactions, right from the source at shipping companies.
The system according to him has already led to the Command intercepting a container with tramadol capsules concealed with ceramic tiles and other items falsely declared, with total duty paid worth over N223million.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday in Lagos, Malanta stated that the container with NO. SEGU 1793504 was falsely declared as ceramic tiles.
However, upon 100% physical examination, 1000 cartons of ceramic tiles was loaded in front while 554 cartons of 120mg of Tramadol capsules were concealed at the back of the container.
Giving further insight on the seizure, he explained that the consignment originated from India, moved to Lome and then to Lagos.
“If you look at the bill of lading, you’ll realise the container is coming from India then to Lome before arriving at Lagos port”
“The container was initially stemmed for Brawal Terminal, but I insisted that it would be examined here in Apapa port”
“I directed my officers to conduct 100 percent examination and we found the container to be concealed with 1,000 cartons of ceramic tiles in front of the container, while at the back we had 554 cartons of tramadol 120mg”
“The tiles are of lower quality, which shows that the intent of the import is not for the tiles, it is for the tramadol” he said.
He said the terminal operator, APM Terminals had given Customs maximum corporation in positioning the container for examination.
It was gathered that Customs conducted joint examination of the said container after it had invited all other relevant agencies.
Soeaking on the new Forensic Manifest Management System, Compt Yusuf Malanta said “It is a new system that I want to deploy in this place and therefore, revealing the secret would be detrimental to my work. This is the system that I used to make sure that anytime a shipping company transacts a manifest, it follows up and track it down and also do due diligence of the culprit”
“I want to tell the trading society and noncompliance traders to desist from making such kinds of importation, we would not relent in tracking down people who are trying to circumvent the system, we are here for you, and we would make sure we bring you to book”
Giving a further breakdown on other seized items, he said, “With the support of my management team, we were able to make the following intervention: one 40 ft container loaded with sacks of mosquito coil products but declared as Ground paper and oak aging paper bag, seven (7) containers loaded with bakes of used clothing and shoes and one (1) container of unregistered pharmaceutical product containing 989 cartons of Mixagrip tabs falsely declared as Winches and gaskets.”
“The total duty paid value of the aforementioned seizures stood at two hundred and twenty-three million, two hundred and twenty-five thousand, nine hundred naira (N223, 225,900.00) without value of the tramadol”
“The Command has launched a preliminary investigation with a view to identifying the consignees for arrest and possible prosecution in connection with the criminal and unlawful importation.
He further said that the consignments are rightly seized for breaching the provision of Sections 46, 47, and 161 of CEMA CAP C45 LFN 2004 and provision of schedule 4 (17) of the Common External Tariff adding that under his watch the command will not tolerate any kind of unlawful behaviour from any importer or declarant.