There is palpable tension in the nation’s maritime sector as two containers suspected to contain contraband items imported into the country through Lagos Port Complex, Apapa have disappeared at Fano bonded terminal, Amuwo Odofin.
This development has made the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) uncomfortable, thereby, launching massive manhunt for the illicit cargoes.
The import containers, which happened to be three were on transire from APM Terminals, Apapa got to Fano bonded terminal successfully but, was allegedly released by the terminal operator without the consent of the Customs Service.
It was gathered that while one of the three missing containers was seen being offloaded into two smaller trucks, the remaining two are still missing with their whereabout still unknown.
Also, investigation had shown that the two missing containers consist of imported used cloth which is a contraband and was imported through Apapa port and meant to be examined at Fano bonded terminal before it was allegedly released by the bonded terminal operator.
Recall that Fano Bonded Terminal and Maersk Line entered into an agreement in 2018 to use the terminal as holding bay since the terminal has storage capacity of between 3200- 3500 TEUs.
The terminal also serves as offdock terminal where cargoes are stemmed and importers can clear their consignment after Customs examination and duty paid by clearing agents.
Addressing select few journalists in Lagos at the weekend, acting Customs Area Controller of the unit, ag Compt. Hussein Ejibunu revealed that three containers left APM Terminal on transier, but one of the three containers was seen on the road being trans-loaded into two smaller trucks by unknown persons while the remaining two containers are yet to be recovered.
According to the FOU Zone A Controller, the containers left APM Terminals Apapa and successfully got to Fano bonded terminal by the officer that escorted it
He said, “Three containers left APM Terminals for a bonded terminal in Lagos. They all got to the bonded terminal but later disappeared from the terminal. When my officers went on the trail of the missing containers, one of the missing containers was seen on the road being trans-loaded into two smaller trucks by some people. The two trucks and that container have been brought to our office and they are here with us as I speak.”
“The other two containers that were taken on transier from APM Terminals to the bonded terminal in Lagos also got to the bonded terminal. The Customs officer who was supposed to take those two containers to the bonded terminal indeed took them there. We have it on record that the two containers left APM Terminals and landed safely at the bonded terminal in Lagos.
“However, how the two containers disappeared from the bonded terminal is what we are still investigating. The two containers where-about is still unknown as we speak and we are on top of the situation. the Officer in Charge, OC of the bonded terminal has confirmed to us that the contianers got to the terminal. He, however, does not know how the containers left the off-dock terminal. we are currently on the trail of the two missing containers,” he said.
Effort to get response from FANO bonded terminal on reason transire containers exited the port without Customs clearance proved abortive as calls placed to the terminal manager, Princess Theresa and text messages were not replied as at the time of filing this report.