The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said on Friday, that it intercepted 20 containers loaded with expired tomato concentrates at the Tin-Can Island port in Lagos.
Adewale Adeniyi, acting Comptroller General of Customs, said the concentrate was seized by the Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML) Command of the Service on August 8, 2023 with one suspect arrested.
He listed the container numbers used to import the expired concentrate to include 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.
Adeniyi said 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,” the Customs boss said.
According to him, each container has 80 drums that were meticulously arranged, amounting to a total of 1,600 drums.
The Customs boss said the operation that led to the seizure aligned perfectly with his set goals for the Service.
He said 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, Okonkwo Oliver 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 suppress smuggling and safeguard the lives of Nigerian citizens,” Adeniyi said.
He said: “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.
Adeniyi, however, warned importers against importing products that would endanger the lives of Nigerians, saying attempt to introduce such a large quantity of expired food products into the Nigerian market was heartless and inexcusable.
“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.