CUSTOMS PROBES MYSTERIOUS CLEARANCE OF 35 CONTAINERS AT TIN CAN PORT

•         Summons Area Controller, Senior Officers To Abuja
•         Seals-up Clarion Bonded Terminal                              

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is currently investigating the level of involvement of its officers at the Tin Can Island Port command in the mysterious clearance of about 35 containers that were on transire to   a bonded terminal; Clarion Bonded Terminal in Lagos, but which were allegedly diverted without the payment of statutory revenue into the coffers of government by the importers and the freight forwarder.
Sources at the Customs headquarters in Abuja told Shipping Position Daily last week that the Tin Can Customs Area Controller (CAC); Mr Tunji Aremu, along with some of his senior officers has been guest of the Customs headquarters since the investigations began.
Currently, the Comptroller General, Alhaji Diko Abdukahi Inde was said to have also ordered the closure of Clarion Bonded Terminal located off the Lagos- Badagry expressway. In addition, the operations licenses of the terminal was said to have been withdrawn.
A freight forwarding firm that was simply identified as Chiefreight and which was alleged to have cleared the containers has also been suspended by the Nigeria Customs Service.
A senior customs officer who pleaded anonymity, because he was not authourised to speak on the issue told our correspondent that “the Controller is here with us, along with some of his officers, all of them are being investigated”.
Falling short of saying that the containers were taken out of the Tin Can port without payment of statutory duty the senior officer confirmed that “they didn’t follow due process”.
An insider source at Tin Can Port Command of the Customs put the duty payable on the 35 containers at about N2.45 Billion.
Sources at Tin Can Customs also fingered an executive of the Tin Can Island chapter of the association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) as being allegedly involved in the scam. The executive was alleged to be closely linked with the Chief Executive of the freight forwarding firm; Chiefreight.
 Also customs sources at the Customs headquarters in Abuja said that, even though the executive is not a director in the company, a relationship does exists between the ANLCA executive and the chief executive of the affected freight forwarding firm.
Shipping Position Daily actually got in touch with the executive who happens to be the vice chairman of Tin Can chapter of ANLCA; Barrister Ada Akpulonu who denied any involvement in the scam.
According to her, the Customs has already arrested some of the people behind it. I can never be involved in such a thing, I have name, minus my position, I have a name to protect”.
She however told our correspondent that three people have been arrested while one is on the run in connection with the fraud, even as she directed our reporter to the Ikeja; Lagos office of the importers, whose identity she gave as Ekulo  Nigeria Limited.
She claimed that her name was used fraudulently in the scam and that the Customs was already investigating the matter, she however did not deny links with the freight forwarding firm at the centre of the scam.
Efforts by our correspondents to speak with the general manager of Clarion bonded terminal; Chief Frank Okocha were unsuccessful, his telephone lines were switched-off. An official of the firm who was willing to talk,  later declined saying he was no competent to talk on the issue.