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Customs holds vessel to ransom in Lagos port

By Godwin Oritse

OFFICERS from the boarding and rummage unit of the enforcement department of the Nigeria Customs Service  (NCS) last week held a vessel  ‘M T Navigator Taurus’ carrying liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to ransom  causing the ship’s delay to sail.

Trouble started  for the vessel when two officers from the boarding and rummage unit got to the vessel and wanted to board her for Customs routine inspection but security around the vessel demand to search the bags of the officers  who vehemently protested the right of the security to subject  their bags to search.

It was gathered that when the security refused the Customs officers entrance into the vessel, they left the terminal and their action delayed the clearance of the ship  for several hours.

The matter was finally resolved after several hours of pleading with officer in charge of the boarding and rummage unit Mr Raphael  Okala who prevailed of his officers to return to the vessel inspect and clear her for sail.

An official of Navgas who  refused to have his name  in print told Vanguard that  it took the intervention of the management of Navgas and  the Head of the Head of the boarding and rummage unit Mr Repheal  Okala  a  chief superindent of Customs who had  to call the officers back to the terminal.

Confirming the development Okala said   the security at the terminal had no right to subject the Customs officers to search.

He also confirmed that the fact the unit has no choice than  to make the operators of the terminal write a letter of under taking  so as to avoid a reoccurrence.

Part of the letter of undertaking written by the terminal operator reads “We wish to register our concern and request over the situation that transpired  between our security operatives and your officers this morning.

“We write to affirm that Customs officers who come to the terminal will not be subjected  to search provided that they are in their uniforms posses valid identification card and are on ground  for official duties.

“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue later in the nearest future in order to reach an amicable arrangement that will satisfy all parties”.

Okala explained that the bags carried by the officers on board contains their working tools some of which include sealing wires, sealing stamp, boarding register, Bill of entry for the payment of import duty and boarding disry.


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