Customs seizes two Bell helicopters at Lagos Airport

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…as unknown importer fails to produce end user certificate

 

By Sade Williams

 

The Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command of Nigerian Customs Service ( NCS), yesterday seized two Bell civil models Bell Helicopters imported into the country by unknown importers.

 

 

The two Bell Helicopters were yesterday handed over to the Nigerian Air Force for failure by the unknown importers to produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA) in contravention of Section 36 ( 2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act .

Addressing newsmen yesterday at the command office at the Lagos Airport, the Customs Area Controller , Frank Allanah disclosed that the duty paid value of the two helicopters and other accessories is over N9,757,135,240.86 .

 

 

He said the helicopters were flown in as a consignment with Airway Bill Number 17232444403 into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. ‘

 

 

The choppers he said were detained at the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) shed pending fulfillment of all legal requirements for the importation .

 

 

He said upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models 412 EP of serial numbers 36608 and 36606 Bell Helicopters respectively , in standard configuration and 23 packages said to contain their accessories weighing eleven thousand four hundred and seventy five kilogrammes ( 11,075 kg).

 

 

Ugo said :” The unknown importer could not produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA) an act which contravenes section 36 sub section two Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) laws of the federation of Nigeria  2004 . Consequently seizure was effected on November 7, 2016 in line with section 46 of CEMA.”

 

 

He also disclosed that revenue totaling  N55,505 ,499,945.35 was collected from January to December 2016 by a highly dedicated work force of the Customs Airport Command , surpassing the collection of 2015 which stood at N24,746,642,881.3 billion .

 

 

The increase in revenue collection, he said is N12.8 billion above the previous year despite decline in cargo through put from 76.9 million tonnes  in 2015 to 64.63 million tonnes in 2016.

 

 

The command he said made several seizures of elephant tusks , foreign currencies and other times .

 

 

Giving further insight into the seized choppers , he said all legal issues were considered before the Customs Authorities carried out the exercise.

 

 

He said the chopper will be useful to the Nigerian Air Force in the fight against insurgency as the chopper were specially designed for such operations.

 

 

Speaking during the hand over the chopper , the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the two Bell choppers and accessories will be taken to the Nigerian Air Force hangar at the Lagos Airport for full examination in collaboration with Customs officials .

 

 

He described the handover as a milestone , because the configuration of the aircraft is fitted for military combat operations.

 

 

He said the presidential approval for the release of the two helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force will assist to fight the war against insurgency and internal security engagement .

Investigations however revealed that the two Bell Helicopters were imported by Rivers State Government in the twilight of the Amaechi Administration .

 

 

But, industry sources hinted that the transactions may not have been documented, forcing the current administration to concede that the choppers be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force .

 

 

In a telephone interview an official of SAHCOL said he could confirm if the choppers were imported by Rivers State Government. He said Customs reserves the right to seize any aircraft or imported item if the importer fails to show up for clearance and payment of necessary duty on the consignment .

 

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