The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has impounded a 40-foot container laden with tilapia fish imported from Turkey.

The container with registration number DFOU6122880 was laden with 2,700 cartons of tilapia brand of frozen fish with Duty Paid Value of N22. 2million.

The consignment was falsely and fraudulently declared by the importer as apple in order to evade import duty payment.

Luck however ran out of the importer and the agent as it was discovered when the container was positioned for examination at the APM Terminals Apapa Limited to contain fish instead of apples declared in the shipping manifest.

The Customs Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Jibrin Musa, who conducted newsmen round the seized consignment yesterday, disclosed that it would be kept under seizure pending the outcome of investigation into the matter with a view to brining the perpetrators to justice.

According to the Controller, in addition to falsely declaring the consignment for the purpose of evading duty, the command also decided to impound the consignment because of the fact that tilapia fish import is under import restriction as the importer failed to  obtain license and permit and necessary quota expected of those who want to bring in such species of fish into the country,

“The consignment is liable to seizure because it contravened the Customs and Excise Management Act CEMA and other extant laws of the Nigerian nation”, he said.

It was further gathered that the fraud was uncovered during the scanning of the container by the officers and men of the command.

“While the command cannot say it has adequate number of scanners, it has endeavoured to make good use of the one it has at its disposal”

“But following the seizure of this particular container, officers and men of the command have been in high spirit especially in terms of inter- agency collaboration and cooperation, as we have already opened up line of communication with the Agricultural and Plant Quarantine Service, the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC, over this matter”, he further disclosed.

While fielding questions from newsmen on the issue including how soon it could take the command to arrest the importer of the fish consignment, who is currently on the run the Comptroller stated that he would soon be arrested especially given that the clearing agent is already in their custody while the address of the importer is also contained  in the document he submitted for the clearing of the goods.

He said “In as much as it did not take time for the importer of the 661 pump action rifles and others involved in the importation of the arms to be nabbed , the command would also ensure that no time was wasted to have the shipper of the fish in its net for further investigation and necessary prosecution”.

On whether the fish consignment would be destroyed later or donated to the Internally Displaced Persons IDPs, the Comptroller said the command’s role would be to put together its report on the seizure, which would include its advice and submit it to the Customs headquarters in Abuja which will decide on what to do with the fish consignment.

While admonishing the officers and men of the command not rest on their oars at ensuring that they detect any fraudulent acts by importers and agents meant to circumvent the law of the land or evade the payment of requisite revenue to the government, he assured that the service would stop at nothing in ensuring their welfare at all times,

The Apapa Command Controller however pledged that in line with the zero tolerance for smuggling and  false declaration policy of  the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali, the command will continue to uncover , discover  and stop any attempt  at breaching the law of the country as it concerns import and export transactions through the Command.

He also advised all stakeholders in the trade value chain to support and cooperate with the command by playing by the rules of the game and warned that the command will leave no stone would be left unturned at enforcing the fiscal regulations of the Federal Government and would therefore not condone any act capable of hindering the realisation of this objective,