The blame game between The Ikorodu Lighter Terminal (ILT) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Sapid Agencies Limited over the security breach that led to the looting of three containers belonging to Elopetz Resources Limited who is suing the NCS for N100million continues to gather momentum.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC), Ahmed Nasir, confirmed that the containers were intact when they examined them after the Command took delivery from Tincan Island Ports but during the final clearing process it was discovered that one of the three containers had been looted, insisting that Sapid is the terminal operator and therefore is solely responsible for the security of the terminal, recently.
According to him, “the importer came to me and complained that one out of three of his containers was near empty and on examination one of the containers was confirmed to be near empty, I told him to meet the Terminal Manager, put up a report and come back to me, he went to meet the Terminal Manager but I don’t know if he put the report in writing or if just gave a verbal report afterwards he came back to say that he saw the stolen goods at the Idimota market, so I called the then Commissioner of Police and told him of the issue, I requested for plain clothes police officers, we wanted to break the syndicate behind the stealing of his goods the CP told us to liaise with his brother here to get all the assistance we need, since then we have been in waiting for the owner of the container and he has not showed.
“up until sometime later when he now came that he wants to carry two of the containers that are full and I said no because we need to find out who is behind the stolen goods, we have to conduct our investigation and if possible police will make an arrest and this will help us to identify those who were involved in the stealing of the goods in the container and that was around January February this year.
”We did not hear from him again until we saw in the papers that he is suing Customs for N100 million, he has forgotten that the Customs is not the custodian of his goods, this is a Customs terminal but there is a terminal operator here running the terminal like in other terminals and they are responsible for providing security.” He stated.
Nasir denied the allegation by the importer who claimed that the NCS wanted him to finance the investigation as a condition for conducting a proper investigation on the issue.
He lamented, “There is nothing we can do about the investigation since the importer has refused to come back. He has really refused to cooperate with us, we could have spoken to the terminal operator on his behalf to waive the demurrage since the containers are under investigation. If he is wanted the assistance in that area he should have asked.
Reacting, The Terminal General Manager Mr. Francis Itsede said the terminal is not concessioned to Sapid, therefore the security responsibility of the terminal rests with the Customs.