The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted the application by the Nigeria Customs Service Board for the forfeiture of various illegally imported goods valued at N50,151,606.
Justice Abdulaziz Anka, in a ruling, granted the request by the Customs “to sell the goods either by way of auction, allocation or by any other procedure.”
The NCSB had on Monday approached the judge with an ex parte application seeking the forfeiture of the goods said to have been intercepted between April and June, 2017.
According to the schedules filed before the court, the illegally imported goods include loads of fairly used clothes, shoes, bags, bed sheets, breakable plates; 7,163 bags of foreign parboiled rice, and 147 jerry cans of vegetable oil.
The Assistant Legal Adviser of the Nigeria Customs Service Board, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Mr. Shehu Bodinga, had while moving the ex parte application on Monday, told Justice Anka that since the goods were intercepted and seized, their owners had absconded and refused to show up to claim them, having realised the severity of the punishment for their offence.
Bodinga said the Customs had received a directive from the presidency that the part of the seized items should be distributed to victims of Boko Haram insurgency living in the Internally Displaced Persons camp in the North-East.
In a 15-paragraph which he personally deposed to, Bodinga said the goods were imported into the country in breach of Section 46(c) of the Customs and Management Act.
According to him, in some cases, the importers and their privies attempted to evade duty on the imported goods or the items they brought into the country were prohibited by law.
He said, “Apart from acts of fraudulent evasion of duty, some of the defaulters brought in outright unlawful and prohibited items, which are so classified by the Customs laws and regulations.
“I verily believe that because of the severity of the punishment and sanction attached to the offences, the defaulters, along with their collaborators, have refused and or failed to come forward to claim the goods from the Nigeria Customs Service, thereby, abandoning same and same seized.”
The lawyer said there was an urgent need to order the forfeiture of the goods because some of them are perishable.
“In order to prevent complete deterioration of the said goods and total loss of revenue to the Nigeria Customs Service, the board now intends to sell the goods either by way of auction, allocation or by any other procedure.
“I verily believe that searches have been conducted in the court registry and there is no evidence of any court actions pending against the application in respect of the items, hereby sought to be condemned as forfeited to the applicant,” Bodinga added.
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