MMIA: Compt. Orbih Goes Tough On Airlines, Passengers; Command Surpasses 2023 Target  

By Stephen Ubanna

Between September 2023 and now, Compt. Orkhena Charles Orbih, Area Controller , Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Command  appears to have sent a message to  International airline Operators and their Passengers that  it is no longer going to be business as usual.

 The Customs Comptroller who is more concerned about achieving the core mandate of the service which includes revenue generation, facilitation of genuine trade, suppression of smuggling and improved security at the airport was said to have stationed the Command Courier officers at strategic locations at the airport .

As a prelude to  ensuring that the right thing is done by the officers without Compromise, he was said to have made it a routine on assumption of duty in  the Command of holding what people had  described as a regular meeting with the officers to restrategise on how to go about their duties. Compt. Orbih, who could not hide his feelings had said that the essence of the regular meetings with the officers is to enhance monitoring of themselves  and to ensure that officers did not take advantage of their position to be Compromised.

Compt. Orbih showcase MMIA drone seizures

Other Contraband itms seized by the Command, going by reports by the Customs Comptroller includes   artwfacts and antiquities,  elephant tusks,  foot wears, precious stones among others.  Given a breakdown of the seized and detained items at different locations at the airport,  the no nonsense Customs Comptroller who has been described as ‘’fire ‘’ at the airport that International airline operators and passengers have be forced to sit up to avoid playing into the Courier officers who are everywhere  at airport tarmac.   The Command was said to have intercepted counterfeit 10,000 US dollars, neatly concealed in an album which were said to have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukayode.

 This is in addition the seizures of 89 drones while 66 others were detained. Note that the fake dollars were said to have the same serial numbers and lack other features of the real US dollar which makes it easy to identify by even a lame man.

Compt. Orbih showcase MMIA Command contraband seizures to the press

The Customs Comptroller who was said to have improved the total security at the MMIA, to ensure that no contraband enters into the country through the airport was said to have also intercepted 330 military and security wares, 700 rolls of cigarettes each with 10 packs, 126 Walkie Talkies and their accessories, 87 pieces of Artefacts and Antiquities, 22 elephant tusks and 300 pieces of Ladies foot wears. The precious stones seized by the Command were said to have been loaded in two bags by the passenger with the intention to deceive the officers scrutinizing the bags that they are personal luggage but were disappointed as the suspected bags were opened and the precious stones discovered.

Although,one or two of the items seized by the Command were not really Contraband like drones and the Cigarettes , but the passenger who had brought the items were said not  to have made correct declaration. Take for instance, the rolls of cigarettes were said to have been concealed with the intention to evade duty payment but got it wrong.

Although Cigarettes and drones are not on the Nigerian government fiscal policy prohibition list, but the importers were said not to have done the right thing.  Given the capacity of the drones which was said to be over 5000 grams, has the capacity f carrying weapons and has first Aid Box that it could stay up to 70 hours in the air, the importer, The Value News was informed ought to have obtained an End User Certificate, EUC, from Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser, NSA’s office in order to pay all the` necessary duties but failed to do so.

Compt. Orbih showcase Contraband Seizures at MMIA to the Media

 The MMIA Customs boss had said that as at January 5, 2024, no Consignee has come to take delivery of the drones to avoid being arrested. Even one David Komalafe who claimed to be staying at Freedom Way, Lekki Phase I,  a high brow area of Lagos , the nation’s Commercial nerve centre with no stated address is yet to show up to claim the Consignment .   

Compt. Orbih showcase MMIA Command drone seizures

The question on the lip of most was whether no suspects were arrested in connection with the counterfeit dollars interception. The MMIA Command Customs boss had confirmed that three suspects were arrested and would be dragged to Court to face the full weight of the Law as a deterrence to others

.Enough of the Command anti-smuggling activities at the airport. We turn to its revenue generation for the year under review.The Command was said to have collected and paid into the Federation Account  he sum of N30,503,507,399.09. He has said that the revenue collected by the Customs Command exceeded the target given to the Command by the Headquarters which was N29,148,944,769,.82  by N1,354,562,629.27 or five percent. This is because its system are automated that once an importer pay its duty for his Consignment, the importer is allowed to take delivery of the cargoes and go without harassment.

In 2022, the Command was said to have collected and paid into the Federation Account the sum of N20,898,557,880.11  higher than , meaning that that 2023, figure was  higher by 46%, meaning that the Command will get a higher revenue target this 2024.

This is evident as the government had given the service a revenue target of N5 trillion this fiscal year which the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has pushed for it to be increased to N6 trillion. There is no gain saying the fact that the major source of Customs revenue is the duty charged on imported on goods imported into the country, exports and duty charged on locally manufactured products from licensed excise factories.    

Compt. Orbih, could beat his chest, that ‘’since assumption of duties at MMIA, the Command has consecutively surpassed its monthly revenue targets by huge margins’’. He noted that for the first time in the   history of the Command in the month of December, the Command collected an unprecedented sum of N4,768,922,080.68, which was a day revenue collection at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin can Island, Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML and the south east port of Onne.

Compt.Orbih, had attributed the success ‘’to plugging all areas of revenue leakages at the airport and the doggedness of the officers of the Command towards achieving its set goal objectives to shore up rvenue’’.

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