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Customs sack officers involved in 661 pump action rifles escape from ports

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An indication has emerged showing that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has dismissed some of its officers who were involved in the importation and clearing of arms into the country earlier this year.

This was confirmed by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Nigeria Customs Service; Mr. Joseph Attah who spoke to Business Hilights on phone recently.

According to him, only those involved in the first case that have been dismissed, adding that officers implicated in the second case involving importation of 440 pieces of riffles at Tin Can Island Port have only been suspended.

It would be recalled that the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Zone A, Ikeja Command swooped on the 40 feet container around Mile 2 as it was heading into Festac Town and commandeered it and occupants to the Zonal head office, Ikeja.

Preliminary investigations by NCS indicated that the officers were found to have illegally released the container load of arms illegally, after collecting bribes.

Already, Customs has charged the sacked officers alongside their accomplices at a Federal High Court in Lagos. Charged with the crime include Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye, said be at large, and Salihu Danjuma.

They were alleged to have conspired to import 661 pump action rifles into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-feet container, which they falsely claimed contained steel doors.

They were also accused of allegedly forging a number of documents including a bill of lading, a Form M and a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report to perfect the illegal clearance from Apapa port.

According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of Customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on January 9, 2017, claiming that it was issued at Shanghai, China. In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filled “steel door” as the content of the container instead of rifles. It was alleged further that they offered a bribe of N400,000 to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the Federal Operative Unit to influence the said officer not to conduct a “hundred per cent search on the 40-feet container with number PONU 825914/3.”

The prosecution also alleged that the first accused, Hassan, corruptly gave N1 million to government officers at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.

The imports originated from Turkey. The guns were concealed in a 20-ft container carrying POP powder used for design of houses originated from Turkey.