The federal operation unit of the Nigeria Customs service aside from confronting smugglers recently prosecuted a Customs Clearing agent for contravening Customs Law
By Evelyn ETINAGBEDIA
The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit charged Mr Roland Uche Ogbonna, Managing Director of Elgusto Classic International before Hon. Justice Abdulazeez Anka of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Friday 12 August 2016, on three counts charge; illegal importation of furniture, breaking of customs seal and evasion of duty payment.
Based on information, the suspect and his company were alleged to have imported 511 sets of various furniture from China in July 2016, contrary to provision of section 47 (i) and (ii) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
After preliminary investigation, inspection and discovery at the warehouse in Lekki, Officers and Men of the Service swung into action by sealing up the warehouse pending thorough investigation. The owner of the warehouse alongside two of his staff were arrested, detained and released after their statements were taken and all bail conditions were met.
On the 1st of August 2016, information got to the Unit that the Managing Director with his staff had broken the seal of the Nigeria Customs Service placed upon Elgusto Classic International warehouse located at km 43, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki, without authority, with the intent to evade prohibition, thereby committed an offence contrary to the provision of section 145 (5) of CEMA LFN 2004, which they were charged for.
After breaking the seal, they removed some sets of the furniture imported from China valued at N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira only), which they were arraigned, for the intent of evading payment of Customs duty, an offence contrary to the provision of section 164 (a) of CEMA Cap C45 LFN 2004.
While Mr Roland Uche Ogbonna, Managing Director, Elgusto Classic International was remanded in Ikoyi Prison awaiting trial while the case was adjourned to October 19 2016, the Warehouse was resealed. Ajakaye, Julius Iyiola, who led the legal team of the Nigeria Customs Service prayed that the court expedite the legal proceedings to serve as deterrent to others.
The Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Comptroller Umar Mohammed Dahiru expressed determination to sustain the present tempo of zero tolerance for smuggling under his watch and praised the commitment and diligence of his officers/men for thwarting the antics of smugglers. While assuring legitimate traders of Nigeria Customs Service support, he warned smugglers to desist from such illicit trade, as it is no longer profitable.
Meanwhile, as part of the revenue drive, FOU realised N65.8m in April, N77.4m in May. The figure however dropped to N30,753,866 in June and N34,178,324:25 in July. The controller urged agents/importers to pay accurate duties instead of engaging in smuggling and loose their goods.