Customs seize two illegally imported Bell helicopters worth N9.7b
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.
According to sources, the unknown importer failed 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. The helicopters have, however, been handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
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 helicopterss, 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 11,075 kg.
The controller 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 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 items.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 helicopters would be useful to the Nigerian Air Force in the fight against insurgency as they were specially designed for such operations. Speaking during the handover of the helicopters, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the two Bell helicopters and accessories would 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 would assist to fight the war against insurgency and internal security engagement.