By Ajibola Abayomi,
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have vowed to clampdown on vessel making changes on ther manifest while on sea. In the same vein, the NCS accused Shipping lines and agencies aiding shipment of illicit items into the country.
Comptroller General of Customs (CG), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said this during a meeting with shipping companies, terminal operators and other critical stakeholders in the maritime industry in Lagos.
He said the Customs would not hesitate to prosecute shipping companies caught in the act henceforth in order to safeguard the interest of the nation.
Ali explained that ships sailing to Nigeria change their manifests at sea from what they originally stated was the content from the point of origin of such cargoes.
Speaking against the background of the interception of over 2,000 pump action rifles at Tin Can Island Port, Ali said the documents from Turkey stated the original contents of the containers but these were changed when the ship got to Morocco.
“Shipping lines are responsible for shipping illicit items to Nigeria and I say this with all sense of responsibility because what we discovered in the case of arms is that in the last two months, when we went to Turkey, we discovered that they were documented as pump action rifles.
“So, the exit certificate from Turkey indicates the actual content because to them, they did not know that the pump action rifles are on the restricted list in Nigeria. Therefore they did not need to contact us before allowing their export it.
“But the importers of these weapons knowing that it is prohibited in Nigeria, when they got to Morocco, they changed the manifest and concealed the weapons with sanitary wares,” he said.
He queried shipping lines on why they accept the change of manifest in the course of transporting goods to Nigeria.