Fraudulent Importers With Their Agents And Smugglers Face Harder Times

 By Stephen Ubanna

  Importers with their Clearing agents at the Onne port which is under the close watch of Auwal Mohammed , the  PortHarcourt Area II, Command, Comptroller are no longer finding it finding it funny to practice their old tricks of doing bad business at the  Onne port.

 This is because of the  tight security  mounted  at the port exit gate and  the eagle eye of the Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU,  on the releasing officers  to ensure that the right thing is done without Compromise. This may have informed why importers with their agents and their Customs Collaborators who aid and abet  false declaration,  wrong classification of cargoes  and concealment  are no longer finding it easy to exit their  Containers suspected of infraction out of the port.

Those who were said to have made attempts to  exit their suspected Containerised  cargoes at the West African Container Terminal , WACT,  would never forget their experience in a hurry as they were said to have succeeded in forfeiting the cargoes to the Federal government.

 Take for instance what had happened between January and March, 2021 as  Mohammed the Command Comptroller, who has  earned for himself a nickname  in maritime circles as’ a non –Compromising officer’  had continued to truncate  all the  tricks that have been applied by the agents, to exit their  cargoes suspected of having Contravened the government Fiscal Policy out of the port.  It is on record that between  January and March, 2021,  importers  using the Onne port to take delivery of their Consignment had forfeited 12 Containers over alleged infration to the government.

Mike Ibeatu, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs agents , ANLCA, Onne Chapter,  who may have been under pressure from members to do something fast to force Comptroller Mohammed and his officers, particular, the Deputy Comptrollers in-charge of the exit gate and the CIU, to give them a soft landing to take delivery of their cargoes  that that have  cleared with the payment of   all   the necessary duties and Charges instead of subjecting their  Containers to another 100 physical examination on spurious allegations.

 The agent withdrawn their services from the port on May 4, 2021, to force Comptroller  Mohammed  to bow to bow to their  pressure  to do their biddings. Thy got it wrong. Their plan may  have  backfired as the agents protest may have forced the PortHarcourt Area II , Onne, Customs Comptroller and his men to go back to the drawing board on how to further tighten security at the port and block areas of revenue leakage.

This may have   worked out going with  the seizure that was made at the port  recently by the Command. The eagle eyed Customs officers at the port and the exit gate were said to have facilitated the seizure of  1,387 cartons of Tramadol, a prohibited Pharmaceutical Product  because of its negative influence on  the youths  who take it.   Ifeoma Onuigbo Ojekwu,  the  Commmand spokesperson had said that  the 1,387 cartons of Contraband tramadol tablets  were concealed  with  1000 cartons  of Ceramic tiles.

Given an insider information  on the seized cartons of tramadol,  Mohammed, the Customs Comptroller disclosed that  the contraband  cargo  was found  in a ‘’40’’  Container  with Registration No. MRKU0764717  that was  identified   for thorough search as   a  result of  intelligence gathering  from international security network. The seized Container and its content were said to have been transferredto the government warehouse  for 100% physical examination.

Intercepted ”40” Container Used In Concealing Cartons Of Tramadol

The PortHarcourt Area II ,Comptroller, may have sent a message to the importers with their  agents using the Onne port to take delivery of their cargoes that they  will  continue’’ to conduct   a 100% physical examination on Containers at the Onne port to ensure that the right thing is done whether they approve of it or not .

The Customs Area Comptroller who could not hid his feelings had told the agents that  they will not be forced’’ to do anything in a hurry’’ against what is contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 2004.  He was emphatic that  ‘’the clearance procedure is well explained in the act, noting that the metculous way the officers conduct  the 100% examination which  is one of  the key aspects of the clearance procedure at the ports in Nigeria’’  had  resulted in uncovering of frauds at the port.  

Compt. Mohammed: Giving Onne Fraudulent Importers and Agents Tougher Times

Appealing to importers with their agents’ to desist  from making   unclear or false electronic declarations’’ , the Onne Customs Comptroller   pointed out that such fraudulent steps  will not guarantee an easy way  out for their cargoes as very Container that had arrived the south east  port must undergo  the mandatory 100% physical examination process  after the relevant duties and charges have been paid into the Federation Account.

He noted  that  if the various security agencies personnel including the  Customs officers had carried out  surface examination of the ‘’40’’ Container Concealed with  the 1,387 cartons of tramadol tablets,  there is no way they could have discovered  that the same  carton  that was used to package  Ceramic tiles could be used to package tramadol  drug.  He may have given kudos to the examination officers at the port when he disclosed that ‘’the meticulous way they have always conducted their physical examination of Containers at the port  bear eloquent testimony to the fact  that there is no hiding place for fraudulent importers with their agents. It is not surprising  why they were able  to separate   between  the items used  for concealment  and the genuine items. This is evident with the Ceramic tiles which was the actual Consignment in the ‘’40’’ that had arrived the port  this May  which was used to package the prohibited tramadol in order  to push it into the Nigerian market.

As a prelude to fishing out the racketeers, the Command was  said to have initiated  investigations to unravel all those who had masterminded the importation of the Concealed tramadol with the Ceramic tiles into the country, including the importer, agent, who was supposed to take the delivery of the Consignment on o behalf of the importer and their collaborators, both within and outside the  Customs Formation.

   Already, Comptroller Mohammed has assured those that cares to listen that all those who may indicted in the ongoing probe of the 1,387 cartons of concealed tramadol with ceramic tiles  would be  prosecuted  in a Competent Court of Law while assuring that that the Onne Customs officers under his close watch  ‘’will continue to abide by the Law and shun any form of Compromise.

Acting Compt.Yayaha: Make A Spectacular Seizure of Cartons Of Poultry Products And Means Of Conveyance

The situation at the  Onne port may be different from what is happening at the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, under the close watch of Usman, Yahaya. The Customs Deputy Comptroller and incidentally the acting Comptroller, who has  less than three months to be  in office and his anti-smuggling Patrol Team officers who are giving the foreign rice smugglers  tougher time appear to have shifted their focus to poultry product smugglers in order to  protect  local  poultry farmers which included Olusegun Obasanjo,  a one former President, in the south west geopolitical region. Acting Comptroller Yahaya, who is described as an anti-smuggling expert, among his Contemporaries was said to  have laid the ground work  for Assistant Comptroller Okpabi and other Patrol Team Leaders to operate and achieve result.

 They are  said to be giving the  smugglers a run for their money in the region, thus forcing  the foreign rice and poultry products  smugglers to cry out like the fraudulent importers with their agents at the Onne port.

The Value News had cited the FOU, Zone A, acting Customs Comptroller on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and his Departmental Heads at the premises inspecting the two vehicles that loaded with thousands of cartons of poultry products who are being watched closely by Comptroller Mohammed and his men.

  He may have taken a cursory look at the cartons of poultry products brought out from the two muddy vehiccles, which was the means of Conveyance, showing that  it  may have been smuggled into the country   through the Ogun  Creeks. Many believe that the hundreds of cartons of poultry may have been  smuggled from Ogun state into the country  because of its too many illegal routes. There indications that the FOU, Zone A, acting Customs Comptroller, may have contacted the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration , NAFDAC, for the destruction of the Contraband Poultry products.

 A former  Area Comptroller of Ogun I , had confirmed that that there are  100 illegal routes used  by smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities in the state. This may have  given  the outgoing of the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller, who may be promoted on merit  over his  outstanding  achievements  and Okpabi, the Commmand , Head of Operations and Lagos Roving, Okpabi, to patronize informants who are always available to provide information on the smugglers, which had severally facilitated thespectacular seizures that had been made by the Command in the recent time.

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