The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has indicted the terminal operator providing logistics service at the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, Sapid Agencies Limited for the looting of three containers valued at about N200 million in their custody.
Recall that an importer, Messrs Elopetx Resources Limited petitioned the Comptroller-General of Customs (CG), Dikko Abdullahi over the alleged looting of three of her fully loaded containers containing glass beer mugs at the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal.
The importer also alleged that the Ikorodu terminal is a leaking port that can compromise national security as many containers have allegedly been looted and vandalized at the terminal. The importer who petitioned the CG through her lawyer, Barr Okwudili Alagbu was however seeking N200 million “restitution” for the containers looted while undergoing overtime clearance at the lighter terminal.
Okwudili said his client was holding Customs responsible because the containers were still under the control and supervision of the Ikorodu Customs Command when the looting was perpetuated.
But, the Customs Area Controller, Ikorodu Command, Nasir Ahmed said Sapid should be held responsible for containers stacked in its premises. Ahmed said the importers whose goods were looted should have sued the operator of the terminal and not Customs. “The Containers are in Sapid’s custody and since Customs has given Sapid to provide all logistics and security service they should account for anything that happened,” he said.
Nasir who was visibly furious about the looting said it was nauseating to hear that containers were being looted in 2015. “Yes, this is a Customs terminal but there is a company running the terminal like other terminals are being run by terminal operators and should anything go wrong, will they trace it back to Customs?,” he queried.
He continued: “We don’t operate machines and we don’t have machine to bring down containers and return. We have written to headquarters to intimate them about what is happening because hearing in 2015 [of] looting of containers is not sweet in the mouth.”
When contacted, the General Manager, Operation of Sapid, Francis Itsede said he was not aware of the looting in his terminal until Wednesday. “We have an in-house security and that remains the fact that they are there. They go to the terminal with Customs. They work as a joint unit and if Customs’ security says they are not aware, Sapid’s security say they are not aware and I am not a magician to know that something has happened before now and if this has happened for a long time and I am just hearing, it is as good as there is no issue because if there is an issue, this should not be the first time it should come to my notice,” he said.
By Pita Ochai