Very Sad Story as Nigeria Customs auction off Man's N33m Goods for 250k

Very Sad Story as Nigeria Customs auction off Man's N33m Goods for 250k

This is a very sad story and i am sure not the real or full story either.I cannot believe this kind of injustice will be allowed to take place.
Having lived in Europe for 25 years, Siaku Elvis in September 2013, loaded a container with refrigerators, a car, a bus, jewelry and hospital equipment worth over N33m and shipped it to Lagos.

That was all his years in Europe – his life savings could buy. It was meant to be part of his retirement plan.He lost his goods after they were auctioned off by the Nigeria Customs Service in a process he described as shoddy and questionable.Angry and frustrated, he now regrets his decision to relocate to Nigeria.He said,

“My shipment got to Lagos on October 14 2013 and a clearing agent was
contracted to clear the container. At the time, my wife and I had some financial problems and could not raise the required funds to clear the container promptly. In desperation, through the advice of a friend, we sought the services of another clearing agent, Tony, who assured us that he would clear the consignment with his money after which he would be reimbursed when we must have sold some of the consignment.
“Though I was still in Europe, I maintained contact with Tony concerning the container. Each time I called him, there was always seemed to be some delay in the clearing procedure. This continued until I got an email from the shipping company that my container had gone into overtime and had been shipped to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal.”
Tony was said to have told Elvis that though this consignment had already been allocated to another person for auction, he could still take possession of the consignment if it was de-listed from the gazette where it had been put up for auction.

Documents made available to The PUNCH showed that the Area Controller of the ILT, Nasir A., had written to the Comptroller General of the NCS, Inde Abdullah, forwarding an application by Siaku’s wife Patience, in whose name the consignment was shipped.It read in part,

“I hereby forward an application in respect of (1X40FT) container No. MSCU 934259/3. The container was transferred from Tincan Island Port to my command. All documentations have been completed at Tincan Island Command; payments receipts, import duty waiver and other necessary documents are attached. I hereby recommend for the consignee to be granted overtime cargo clearance.” The document was stamped and received on April 14, 2014.
A letter dated May 28, 2014 and signed by Deputy Comptroller Abutu acknowledged the receipt of the application and gave approval for overtime clearance.But to Elvis surprise, when he presented the said document at the ILT, he was told that his container was no longer there.
While Elvis had been processing the delisting of his consignment, unknown to him, it was already allocated on March 31 2014, to one Isaac John of Ademola Street Lagos. A copy of the allocation document also showed that it was received at the Tincan Island Port on April 30, 2014, about three weeks before the consignment was delisted from the auction gazette in Abuja.
Another letter from the Tincan Island Port to the Area Controller, ILT dated May 7 2014, directed that Isaac John be allowed to take delivery of Elvis’s consignment which was described as an auction container. The consignment whose contents were valued at over N33m was sold at N250,000.
It read, “The above mentioned container was allocated to Isaac John. It has been processed and released in this command. You may wish to allow allottee to take delivery of the said container.”
 Elvis said,
“After I was told that the container had been taken, I made a report at the Bode Thomas police station. Not much came out of it because I was told that only the Inspector General of Police could authorise the arrest of the ILT area controller.
“Although Tony was arrested, not much came out of it. He got a bail and I did not have the funds to keep following the case so I gave up. I have written a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan because the way the auction was carried out was wrong. I already paid all the necessary duties yet I lost my life savings and the little I had left, trying to get the consignment back. I am just living on charity.”
Elvis is not alone in this situation. Many importers are said to lose their consignments amounting to millions of naira annually once unclaimed cargo declared overtime is moved to the ILT. Chuks Okorie, an importer, who has been in the business for over two decades, is still grappling with the loss of three 20 feet containers whose contents include a sport utility vehicle and some tractor tyres valued at over N21m.

His consignment which was shipped from China in 2012 arrived Nigeria early 2013. Due to some delay in procuring the required documents used to process the PAAR which at the time was the Clean Report of Inspection, the containers could not be cleared immediately.

Okorie said,

“By the time the documents arrived, the goods had stayed at the port for over a month. Being that there were three 20 feet containers, the demurrage which had accrued over time, was enormous.
“When a consignment has spent a month at the ports, it goes into the fourth period of storage. By then, it attracts almost N10,000 per day for storage and for demurrage. That means we are contending with about N60,000 per day for the three containers; it would take a lot to offset the demurrage.
“I tried to get a waiver from the shipping line for the demurrage but they turned down my request. Hoping they would grant waivers for other charges, I made payments for the first invoice I collected. Unfortunately, they insisted on full payment. While trying to raise the funds, three months went by and my containers were classified as overtime cargo.”
In an effort to reclaim his consignment, Okorie went to Tincan Customs Command in June 2013, to verify if it had been listed as overtime in order to seek its clearance. He was informed that not only had his consignment been listed as overtime, it was in the government’s gazette for auction.

This meant that Okorie could no longer obtain the clearance from Tincan. He had to get it from Abuja and quickly too as any consignment in the gazette would also already have eager buyers bidding for it.

He said,

“Before taking custody of overtime consignments, you would go to Tincan customs to verify if it has been listed as overtime. If you are given the clearance, you can still go and clear the goods.
“I was shocked when I was told my cargo was in the gazette because the duty for the goods had been paid; the NCS, or the Ministry of Finance had no reason to gazette the three containers. All I needed was to get the overtime clearance, settle other matters with the shipping company and take the containers.”
After several applications to the Ministry of Finance, urging it to de-classify the cargo, Okorie’s application was accepted and on September 27, 2013, the Home Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance wrote a letter to the CG NCS. A copy of Okorie’s letter was also forwarded to the CG for his consideration and comments.

A month later, another letter was forwarded by the same ministry to the CG on the same matter.
Okorie said,

 “I wrote to the Finance ministry; they are the ones who would write to the NCS to delist the cargo once they are satisfied that the requirements (duty) have been paid; the Federal Government having collected its revenue.
“In my case, they wrote to the NCS about the consignment and I expected that the customs would contact me having received the letter from the Ministry of Finance. They never did in addition to several letters that I wrote to the NCS Abuja and Lagos Zonal office.”

While Okorie waited for a response from NCS Abuja, he went periodically to the Kirikiri terminal where his cargo was, to reassure himself that it had not been moved. After the usual check on April 2014, Okorie returned in June 2014 only to be told that his cargo had been moved to the ILT. By the time he got to the ILT in November 2014, the cargo had been auctioned.
He said,
“There is a collection centre at the ILT where customs officials can verify from their computer system the dates they receive containers and when they exit them. Custom officials at the ILT confirmed that they had received my cargo on May 2014 but that it had also been exited. They did not say when it left the ILT or who collected it.In fact, it was just two containers that were taken to the ILT; the empty container for the third consignment had already been returned to the Kirikiri terminal. That meant someone had taken it from Kirikiri either through auction or whatever means and sold the contents.”
 In addition to losing his cargo, Okorie had spent well over N3m to pay the duties on them.
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