By Godwin Oritse
THE Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said that it has not been official notified of the unbanning of textile materials and other items recently removed from the import prohibition lists Area Comptroller of the Apapa Area 1 Command Mr. Abdulkabir Azarema told Vanguard that Customs has not received any instruction regarding the lift on the ban of certain goods hitherto banned.
He spoke to Vanguard after the examination of 23 containers of general goods , out of which 10 came in with textile materials, impounded by the Customs Joint Task Force on 100 per cent cargo examination.
The total Duty Paid Value (DPV) estimated for the seized containers is about N1billion, while one suspect is said to have been arrested in connection with the seizures.
He said that a Memo could a proposal adding that the fact that it emanated from the Ministry of Finance does not mean that the Customs is obliged to obey it.
Azarema also stated that a Memo is not an approval for these items to be excluded from the list of prohibition..
Also speaking on the seizure, leader of the Task Force Comptroller Ekporwei Edike explained that the textiles were seized because Customs has not yet received any official directive to implement the lifting of the ban on the importation of textiles materials.
According to Ekporwei, the task force operations are not limited to Lagos only, but also extend to ports in the South South part of the country. A break down of the seizures shows that 18 containers were impounded at the Apapa command alone, one from the Tin Can Island port, while four were seized from the Port Harcourt, zone.
As for the seizures at Apapa port, one of the containers, a 40 foot container of motorcycles was used to conceal several vehicles spare parts, while 11 of the seized containers were loaded with textiles and cotton materials, and yet another container had household utensils while the remaining ones were yet to be examined as at press time.
The task force boss however explained that the containers were seized because of false and under declaration, an offence, which according to him, is punishable under section 46 sub sections B, C, D and E of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 of Nigeria.
However while explaining the mission of the joint task force, Ekporwei assured that the body which also drew members from the anti graft bodies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has not come to duplicate functions or to set aside the normal approved procedures.
“We are not putting aside the normal customs procedures, we are not putting aside the established and approved customs procedures, all we are doing is to examine cargo 100 per cent. Every cargo meant for physical examination that is on the red charnel must be examined 100 per cent by the task force in collaboration with the resident officers”, he stressed.
According to him, “this means that we are not taking the job of the regular officers on the field or in the command, we are just to complement their efforts and that is what we have been doing for the past two weeks”.
Ekporwei also said that the task force which is revenue collection oriented has so far collected about N51million being monies that were realised from the over N100million debit notes that were issued and which clearing agents have been paying.
“You will agree with me that the reason for setting up the task force is now being achieved, there is an increase in the revenue and also the anti smuggling wing of it is also paying off, we intend to continue, there is no stopping and there is no going back”, he declared.