By Lawani Mikairu
THE Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos Command of Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, yesterday seized two Bell civil models l Helicopters which were imported into the country last year but remained unclaimed at the ware house of the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited ,SAHCOL, at the cargo section of the airport. The two abandoned helicopters have therefore been handed over to the Nigerian Air Force to fight insurgency in the North East.
Confirming the seizure yesterday, the Customs Area Controller, Frank Allanah disclosed that the duty paid value of the two helicopters and other accessories was over N9,757,135,240.86. He also said the helicopters were flown into the country as a consignment with Airway Bill Number 17232444403 through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
He added that the helicopters were detained at the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) shed pending fulfilment of all legal requirements for the importation .
According to him, “upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models 412 EP of serial numbers 36608 and 36606 Bell Helicopters respectively, in standard configuration and 23 packages said to contain their accessories weighing eleven thousand four hundred and seventy five kilogrammes ( 11,075 kg).”
“The unknown importer could not produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA) an act which contravenes section 36 sub section two Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004. Consequently seizure was effected on November 7, 2016 in line with section 46 of CEMA.”
However, there are reports that the two Bell Helicopters were imported by Rivers State Government during the Rotimi Amaechi’s administration. An official of SAHCOL, who does not want to be named, confirmed that the choppers were imported by Rivers State Government. He also said Customs reserves the right to seize any aircraft or imported item if the importer fails to show up for clearance and payment of necessary duty on the consignment.