Customs seizes 20 Containers of expired tomato at Lagos Port

David Adekunle, Lagos

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The Port Terminal Multiservice Limited , PTML Command of Nigeria Customs Service has seized twenty containers of expired tomato imported from Spain and falsely declared as containing almond shells.

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Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi who displayed the seizure in Lagos on Friday, placed the duty paid value of the seizure at over N116million.

The Customs boss commended the eagle-eyed officers of the command under the Customs Area Controller, Compt Saidu Abba Yusuf, saying that their operation align perfectly with the goals his leadership had set for the service.

According to him, the primary objectives of his administration are to curb smuggling, safeguard national revenue, ensure the security of the nation, and promote legitimate trade and businesses.

Giving details of the remarkable seizure, Adeniyi said “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 one hundred and sixteen million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-five naira, seventy-three kobo (#116,211,725.73).

The container numbers involved in this illicit operation are as follows: ACLU 2790243, GCNU 1275582, GCNU 1303278, GCNU 1336137, GCNU 1361905, GCNU 1316824, GCNU 1323314, GCNU 1324727, GCNU 1326210, SEGU 3388813, ACLU 2800629, GCLU 13218553, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1340991, GCNU 1353290, GCNU 1302570, GCNU 1308140, SEGU 3333426, and SEGU 3338351.

As of now, all these containers remain in our custody, officially recorded as seizures. We have apprehended one suspect, Mr. Okonkwo Izunna, who is currently under administrative bail but remains under investigation.

“This seizure, which was processed through three separate single good declarations (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.

“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.

I implore all importers and their agents to act patriotically by making honest declarations. Remember that compliance brings numerous benefits, including building a reputation for integrity, saving time and money by avoiding demand notices and penalties, and staying out of legal troubles that could lead to imprisonment, loss of licenses, and blacklisting”

The Customs boss said that the twenty containers would be handed over to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

Also speaking, Director of Investigation and Enforcement of NAFDAC, Mr. Francis Ononewu said that the seized to tomato concentrate would have had a damaging effect on the health of Nigerians if allowed into the market.

We want to appreciate Nigerian Customs Service for this collaboration.
We know the quantity 1,600 drums are raw materials, they are not finished products and that means they will revalidate the date change the date to make it current and it will still be reprocessed into smaller parts.

“You can imagine the number of tin of tomatoes that one drum will make, and we know the literal effect of the people who consumed it, the health effect,

He noted that the health implication of people who consume the expired tomato can cause death at the end of the day if it’s not properly managed.