The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 1600 drums of expired tomato concentrate concealed in 20 containers.
The expired tomato concentrates were seized at the Port Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML), port in Lagos.
Speaking during the press briefing held at the Customs command on Friday, the acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria NCS Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, said the cargo is alleged to belong to a company identified as Nikecristy Investment Limited adding that the seizures mark a historic milestone in the history of the command.
He said “We have successfully intercepted and detained a staggering 20 containers filled with expired tomato concentrate, an unprecedented event since the inception of this command and one suspect was arrested in connection with the seizure.” He asserted
He said the container numbers used to import the expired concentrate read ACLU 2790243, GCNU 1275582, GCNU 1303278, GCNU 1336137, GCNU 1361905, GCNU 1316824, GCNU 1323314, GCNU 1324727, GCNU 1326210, and SEGU 3388813.
Other numbers include ACLU 2800629, GCLU 13218553, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1302570, GCNU 1308140, SEGU 3333426, and SEGU 3338351.
According to Adeniyi, the expired tomato concentrates, which have a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N116 Million, were falsely declared as containing almond shells and imported by Nikecristy Investment Limited.
“Today, we stand before you to announce a remarkable seizure at PTML. We have successfully intercepted and detained a staggering 20 containers filled with expired tomato concentrate, an unprecedented event since the inception of this command.
“On the 8th of August, 2023, during a routine examination, our vigilant officers at PTML uncovered a cache of expired tomato concentrate, deemed unsafe for human consumption. The audacity of the smugglers to attempt introducing this hazardous product into the Nigerian market is both shocking and disheartening.
“These expired tomato concentrates were concealed within 20 containers, each falsely declared as containing almond shells, all under the auspices of a company identified as Nikecristy Investment Limited. In each container, 80 drums were meticulously arranged, amounting to a total of 1,600 drums. The Duty Paid Value of this illegal cargo is a staggering sum of N116.2million,” the CG stated.
The Customs CG noted that the operation that led to the seizure aligned perfectly with his set goals for the Service.
He reiterated that the Service’s primary objectives are to curb smuggling, safeguard national revenue, ensure the security of the nation, and promote legitimate trade and businesses.
“As of now, all these containers remain in our custody, officially recorded as seizures. We have apprehended one suspect, Mr. Okonkwo Oliver Izunna, who is currently under administrative bail, but remains under investigation.
“This seizure, which was processed through three separate single good declaration (SGDs) forms, is a testament to our unwavering commitment to maximally suppress smuggling and our determination to safeguard the lives of Nigerian citizens by intercepting dangerous imports such as these.
“The actions taken by those involved in this unlawful activity contravene the provisions of sections 228(1) and (2), 55 (c and d), and 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act 2023. Additionally, it directly violates Schedule 4, item 14 of the Common External Tariff (CET) 2022-2026,” he added.
The Customs boss, however, warned importers against importing products that would endanger the lives of Nigerians, saying the attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market was heartless and inexcusable.
“I would like to take this opportunity to send a stern warning to importers and their agents, urging them to steer clear of unlawful practices such as false declarations aimed at evading duties or smuggling prohibited goods into our country.
“The audacious attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market is heartless and inexcusable. I want to assure you that our officers and personnel will always remain vigilant, diligently scrutinizing all import and export consignments passing through our seaports, airports, border stations, dry ports, and terminals nationwide.
“It is essential to reiterate that compliant automobile importers and their agents can now expect streamlined clearance processes, with consignments being cleared within three hours when importations adhere to our regulations, involve honest declarations, and prompt payment of customs duties,” he added