The management of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said that it will no longer shut down the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel located in Victoria Island, Lagos over rice import duty allegedly owed by its parent company, Milan Nigeria Limited.
Customs National Public Relations Officer, Deputy Comptroller Wale Adeniyi had earlier disclosed that the NCS would shut the highbrow hotel due to rice levy indebtedness. “We are not unmindful that they have guests in the hotel. We are making representations to them to ensure that they either pay Customs duty or they evacuate their guests before we come to seal the hotel premises off. Because it is the hotel premises that houses the Milan Group.
“The owners of the companies are the same. So, we’ve given them options either to make do their payment or we have no choice but to stop them from operating. We don’t want to create unnecessary scenes so we are going to be civil in our approach to the Intercontinental issue,” the Customs Spokesman said.
He said the planned operation was due to government directives that the premises of all defaulting importers be sealed off.
However, in another press statement, Adeniyi said the NCS has since discovered that the hotel is a separate entity from the rice import duty debtor.
“Nigeria Customs Service has found it necessary to clarify its position on its on-going battle to compel defaulting rice importers pay outstanding duties owed the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“This clarification has become necessary in view of media reports that Nigeria Customs Service plans to shut down Intercontinental Hotel. The confusion was created in view of the association of its owners, Milan Nigeria Limited with one of the defaulting Importers.
“Our records have shown that Intercontinental Hotel is not indebted to the Nigeria Customs Service, and will therefore not be shut down as insinuated. It is also necessary to clarify that the defaulting importers targeted for sanctions, Conti Agro Nigeria Limited is a separate legal entity from Milan Nigeria Limited, owners of Intercontinental Hotel.
“The Management of Conti Agro has commenced engagement with the Customs to make payments of duty owed by it, and resolve the issue”.
By Pita Ochai