Border closure: Importers devise means of illegal importations


Timileyin Adeolu

Importers of frozen foods have devised another mean of ensuring their illegal activities by diverting their consignments to the nation’s international airports, especially the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), MMIA Command also said that it had earned at least N47.7bn in revenues between January and October 2019, surpassing the 2019 target set for it with 110 per cent.

In just two days the MMIA Command had intercepted two consignments of frozen foods with one of them disguised as vegetables with total duty paid value at N68, 850, 000.

The other consignment was abandoned at the Gate 13 of the airport by the importer or its agents, probably because of the close monitoring on their activities by the officials of the command.

Customs Area Comptroller (CAC), Mr Wale Adeniyi, in a joint press briefing at the Federal Operating Unit (FOU) of NCS in Lagos, said that the first consignment containing, meat, chicken, turkey and other frozen foods were discovered on South African Airways on November 10, 2019.

According to Adeniyi, the command’s tarmac operatives intercepted, which was indicated as perishables and therefore qualified for pre-release at the cargo wing of the airport.

He explained that its officers at the command insisted on inspecting the items before transferring them, stressing that in the cause of inspection, it was discovered that the items included 40 cartons of beef, pork and fish fillets.

He added: ‘Though, the airway bill described the goods as fresh vegetables, but were rather frozen foods, which are contraband in the country. It became obvious that the importer through his agents has prepared pre-release documentation purporting the imports to be fresh vegetables with the sole intention to evade the import prohibition order.

“At about 0005 hours the following morning, Monday, November 11, 2019, another consignment of 104 cartons comprising pork meat, beef, and turkey was seen abandoned inside four dollies close to Gate 13. The total duty paid value of the two seizures is N68,850.

Adeniyi declared that the seizures were warning to importers of contraband goods into the country, reiterating that its command would make it extremely difficult for such persons to use the airport to perpetuate their criminal activities.

He assured that the command would intensify its surveillance within the airport environment.

The items were destroyed at the Federal Operating Unit of the service at Ikeja.

Besides, Mrs Lena Oyama, the CAC, Murtala Muhammed Airport Area Command disclosed that the command had earned N47.7bn in the first 10 months of the year.

The amount generated she said was an improvement to the same period in 2018. The command had generated N44bn in 10 months in 2018.

The breakdown of the generation indicated that in August, the command generated N4.3billion, which equally represented 109.6 per cent increase from the expected revenue.

The command generated the total sum of N4.320billion, which represented 100.6 per cent increase of the expected revenue target for the month of August.

For the month of September, the command generated N4.9billion, which also represented 115.6 per cent increase in revenue target, exceeding the monthly target for the command with N674.1m.Oyama expressed that for the month of October, the command earned N4.7billion, which indicated an increase of 109.6 per cent.

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