Illegal Arms Importation: Customs officer testifies against colleague
An Assistant Comptroller of Customs attached to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Federal Operation Unit, A. M. Adamu, on Wednesday told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that an officer serving at the Apapa Area Command offered bribe to other officers at the port to facilitate the release of a container load of illegally imported arms.
The NCS had on June 14, 2017 arraigned two Customs officers, Muhmud Hassan and Salisu Abdulahi Danjuma, alongside Oscar Orkafor, Donatus Ezebunwa Achinulo and Matthew Okoye, before Justice Ayotunde Faji’s court, on charges bordering on illegal importation of fire arms, conspiracy, forgery and altering of documents, offering of graft to government officials and importation of prohibited goods.
The Attorney General of the Federation alleged that all the accused persons conspired with one another to illegally import 661 pump action rifles into Nigeria.
They were also alleged to have forged importation documents including two bills of lading, with one of the bills indicating Shanghai China as the port of loading of the illegally imported arms, instead of Istanbul, Turkey.
The accused were also charged with false declaration of steel doors as the content of the container.
One of the Customs Officials, Mahmud Hassan, was alleged to have offered the sum of N400, 000.00, to one Aliu Musa, the Examination Officer of the Federal Operation Unit of the Customs Service with an intent to prevent one hundred percent physical search on the container marked PONU 825914/3, which contained the arms.
He was also alleged to have corruptly offered the sum of N1 million to government officials at the Apapa Port, through his colleague, Danjuma Abdulahi, in order to prevent the examination of the said container used in bringing in the 661 illegally imported arms.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, are contrary to and punishable under sections 3(6),1(14)(a)(I) 1(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. And section 98(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Act.
At the resumed trial of the accused persons on Wednesday, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs at the Federal Operation Unit, Zone, Lagos, A. M. Adamu, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court how the accused persons were arrested, and how the case was reported to the Department of State Security (DSS).
Adamu informed the court that the importers, apart from paying less duty, also lied in their Customs declaration form.
He said, “The total duty value for the items was USD200,000 but in the declaration, what was laid was USD150,000. They also declared that the good originated from China and Turkey.
“The importers listed 100 pieces of steel doors, 225 packages of steel doors valued at USD13, 364, at the exchange rate of N305 to one dollar.
“I discovered a lot of discrepancies in the Customs declaration forms. Each document tells different stories.”
Adamu also told the court that after his investigation, he informed the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, who directed him to DSS for further investigation, where he also made a statement.
Further hearing in the case continues today.