By Aisha Cole
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has intercepted a 40ft container of frozen Tilapia fish imported from Turkey and valued at N22.1 million.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Muhammad Jibrin, said this on Monday when he led newsmen to APM Terminals, Apapa, where the container was intercepted.
Jibrin said that the container No: DFOU6122880, was discovered during scanning.
He said that the importer made a false declaration that the container was laden with apples.
“Upon scanning, officers discovered the container was containing 2,700 cartons of frozen tilapia fish from Turkey.
“The aforementioned fish species is under restriction.
“More so, importers of allowable species of fish are expected to obtain licence, and permit before such importation into the country.
“We have scanners that are working but most of the scanners are inadequate for operations,’’ Jibrin said.
He said that the command had opened communication with Agriculture and Plant Quarantine Service and the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in the spirit of collaboration.
Jibrin said that the command had zero tolerance for smuggling and false declaration in line with the policy of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali.
He said that the command would continue to uncover and stop any attempt at breaching the law as regards imports and exports transactions through the command.
The controller, however, advised stakeholders relating with Customs service to be law-abiding “as no stone will be left unturned in enforcing government fiscal policy regulations’’.
According to him, the command usually engaged stakeholders in interactive session monthly to ensure that both Customs and stakeholders remained committed to government’s policies relating to clearance of goods at the ports.
The Federal Government on Thursday, noted that smugglers were beginning to flood the markets with harmful frozen fish illegally imported into the country through the land borders.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, said this at the Abuja Headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The minister said that those involved in the act were undermining the efforts of government despite the fish importation policy and ban on frozen farmed fish importation into the country.
He said that the circulation of unhealthy fish and fishery products in Nigerian market had resulted in grave health implications such as kidney disease and cancer.
“It has become necessary for the Federal Government through the FMARD to address the Nigerian public on the sale of smuggled unhealthy frozen fish, especially farmed tilapia, in Nigeria.
“These smuggled frozen fish are very harmful to the health of Nigerians” he said.
The minister warned those involved in the illegal importation to desist, as anyone caught will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
He said that the government had been collaborating with countries in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria Customs Service, Maritime Police, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Agriculture Quarantine Service.
“The ministry is using this medium to warn all those involved, colluding, aiding and abetting these nefarious activities to stop or face the full wrath of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Importation of fish without licence attracts five-year imprisonment or a fine of $250,000, or both, in addition to forfeiture and destruction of the vessel and its products.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has put in place measures to arrest, detain and prosecute offenders as provided in the Sea Fisheries Act Cap S4 laws of the Federation 2004,’’ the minister said.