Ogun Customs debunks allegation on payment of N200,000 by driver to retrieve tomato, vehicles
.Says allegation is false
By Udeme Clement
The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Ogun 1 Command has described the allegation on payment of N200,000 by a driver to retrieve seized tomato and vehicles as false, subjective and biased.
The Public Relations Officer, PRO, of the Command, Abdullahi Maiwada said this in a statement signed and made available to Financial Business.
His words, “The attention of NCS, Ogun 1 Command has been drawn to a malicious allegation made against its personnel on Punch Newspaper engineered by Abeokuta based reporter.
“It is pertinent to put the record straight that a team comprising of resident officers of the Command and joint officers of other sister security agencies operating under the border drill code named, ‘Ex-Swift Response’ intercepted five buses suspected to contain fresh tomato and pepper at Ilara/meko and Ijoun axis of Ogun State, on Monday 26/08/2019. The items were suspected to have been smuggled into Nigeria from Benin Republic.”
He stated, “Further investigation revealed that the items were smuggled into Nigeria. Therefore, considering the perishable nature of the items, the goods were presented to public auction, in line with Customs and Excise Management Act CAP 45, LFN (2004), as amended”.
The PRO informed, “Significant quantity of the seized items were successfully auctioned openly to the public in the presence of relevant agencies”.
He explained, “As at August 27, 2019, the following amount was realised from the auction goods. Auction sales: N209,475.00 with 5 percent Value added Tax (VAT) of N11,025.00 , making a gross total of N220,000.
“Attached, are evidence of payment into the Federation Account as ‘fees’. The remaining three vehicles fully loaded, which are yet to be auctioned, are presently stationed at Quarry road, Abeokuta Customs office.”
He pointed out, “While the Command will continue to use both internal and external mechanism to sanitise and punish officers found guilty of any misdemeanour, in tandem with the law, we will like to draw the attention of the public to the fact that, the said reporter is defying professionalism by using a reputable platform of Punch Newspaper, known for upholding the ethics of the noble Journalism profession to unleash unverifiable allegation for personal reasons.
“The same reporter, who doubles as Ogun State correspondent of another national daily, appeared to have derailed into personal vendetta with NCS Ogun Command and allowed sentiment to override his professional ethics”.
He asked, “If the report is not a vendetta, why incoherently dragging the name of the Command Public Relations Officer, PRO, even after receiving the fact of his inquiry from the official spokesperson of the whole operation?,
Meanwhile, the Customs Area Controller, CAC, of the Command, convened a meeting with tomato farmers at Idiroko, on Tuesday August 27, 2019. The deliberation yielded a positive outcome leading to unanimous agreement that the Association of Tomato Farmers will produce the list of all farms and their addresses for onward inspection by a joint sub-committee constituted by the CAC, comprising of Plant Quarantine, Customs Intelligence Unit, DSS and others.
He added, “The association further promised to produce invoices for all their members, so as to distinguish between smuggled and locally produced tomato and their allies.
“The implementation of the deliberations have been fully enforced, as smooth passage of locally produced products is being expedited within Ogun State.
“The ultimate objective of suppression of smuggling by NCS Ogun State is to protect local production and not to thwart the effort of government in boosting agriculture development”.