The Tin-Can Island Customs Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 31 containers of 14,000 bags of rice worth about N71 million as maritime activities ended last Friday.
The Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Mr. Dan Ugo, stated this when he conducted newsmen round the seizure.
He disclosed that a company named Destiny Limited, falsely declared the containers as yeast but they were found to be containing rice bags on examination. This, he stressed, led to seizure of the consignment.
He said: “Rice importation through sea ports is not prohibited but the agent claimed in the manifest that he imported 31 containers of yeast. Our duties to government is to ensure compliance and any defaulting agent will bear the consequences which is already stated in the laws guiding Customs operations.’’
He said the yeast claimed to be imported by the agent attracted five per cent duty, while the agent was tried to short-change government.
The DCG said that comparing the duty to be paid with that of yeast, it was a big loss to government.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Deputy Comptroller-General, Administration and Discipline, Iya Abubakar, warned that the era of importers engaging in false declaration and hoping to escape Customs clearance was over.
Abubakar urged importers and agents to stop the criminal act of short-changing the government.
He said that Customs officers would search the rice thoroughly to confirm that the goods were all rice.
Abubakar noted that the Customs once intercepted a container having ammunitions that was declared as toys.
On his part, the Zonal Coordinator, Zone `A’ of NCS, Assistant Comptroller-General Eporwei Edike, urged importers to feel free to bring rice through Nigerian ports only with honest declaration to fast track cargo clearance.
Edike said that honest declaration would not give room for containers to accumulate demurrage.
The Customs Area Controller, Tin-Can Island Customs Command, Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, said that the importer was not on customs fast track provision.
Bashar said that investigation was ongoing to arrest the agent involved in the consignment.
Bashar however, urged journalists, as part of the stakeholders in the maritime sector to endeavour to assist Customs on intelligence information to improve operations.
He said that the rice consignment was imported from China.