By Ifeyinwa Obi
Following an allegation of threat to bomb the Port and Terminal Multi-Service Limited (PTML) Custom Command over the seizure of 21 tokunbo vehicles valued at about N30million,Â Â while their Duty Paid Value(DPV) was about N4milion, the ANCLA Chairman of the Tincan Island port Mr. KayodeÂ Farinto was last week squeezed by the State Security Services (SSS) in Lagos.
However Farinto in a swift reaction denied that he threatened to bomb the port and alleged that all was a ploy by the customs to silence him.
There has been altercation between the ANCLA boss and the PTML customs over the seized vehicles since last week. The Area Comptroller of the Command, Garba Kuffi, penultimate week, ordered the seizure ofÂ 21 Tokunbo cars on the ground that their clearing documents were falsified
According toÂ Mr Steven Okonmah, the Public Relations Officer of the PTML Customs Command, acknowledged the seizure of the controversial vehicles whichÂ clearing documents he claimed were â€˜â€˜machined outsideâ€™â€™.
â€˜â€˜It is a clear case of false declaration. Their goods were machinedÂ outside , verified outside and released outside andÂ under the CEMA, the offenceÂ attracts outright seizure. It does not matter whether duty was paid at all or not, the consignees have circumvented the law and have consequently forfeited the vehicles to governmentâ€, Okonmah declared.
He disclosed that the Command had in the past bent backward to allow such controversial consignments to go, but said that the Command wanted to put its foot down on the current disputed transaction which he felt was becoming a constant trend among some importers.
â€œIt is annoying that six days after the Command released about 96 vehicles with similar problems after profuse pleas from ANLCA chieftains, they wanted the Command to let go of another 21 vehicles which were machined outside.
Why isÂ it only Kayode Farinto that is always coming to beg for â€˜machine outsideâ€™ jobs?Â All others condemned the attitude of the agents but Farinto who is the Chairman of Tincan, not PTML, came here to instruct the CAC to release the vehicles. But the CAC said no and that is the beginning of the problem. Nobody can teach us our job and these vehicles wouldÂ not be released on any sentimentâ€, Okonmah retorted.
Okonmah berated the Tin Can ANLCA chief for what he described as mischief and his attempt to use his position to exert undue pressure on the Command.
He however alleged that Farinto issued a threat to burn down the Command if the disputed vehicles were not released.
â€œAfter his pleas were rebuffed by the CAC, he stormed out and was over-heard saying the Command will burn. Based on that, the CAC notified the headquarters because we had an information that he started calling clandestine meeting on how to attack the custom officers. We had to report to other security agencies .
Based on this, the Custom ComptrollerÂ General Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, instructed that those involved should be arrested, and through joint operation of Customs and Police, 33 of them were arrested. This is to prevent any ugly incidentâ€, Okonmah said.
He declared that the battle line is now drawn between his CommandÂ and the ANLCA chiefÂ on whom he dared to make good his