By Uche Usim
The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has sentenced six persons to 10 years imprisonment for cloning the official seals and allocation papers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The accused persons are: Abiodun Ojo, Uche Nwamaka Mike, Charles Ali, Abutu Emmanuel, Sunday Nwaeze and Ngozi Ibeh.
Operatives of the NCS, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos in 2013, swooped on the accused persons at their operational base in Apapa, when it was discovered they ran a parallel Customs establishment.
They were reportedly arrested with counterfeited Nigeria Customs Service Allocation paper ref. NCS/ADM/MGT/012/S.1/C VOL IV, dated 4th June 2013 and with serial number 0002095 for 1x20ft container no GESU 2339750. The team also had in its possession, fake seal of the Comptroller General of the NCS.
Consequently, the NCS Board, after concluding its investigations, arraigned the suspects on September 11, 2013.
The accused persons were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering mainly on forgery and counterfeiting before Justice Musa, H. Kurya of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In his ruling on June 29, Justice Kurya found the six accused persons/defendants guilty of the charges.
According to the Spokesman of the NCS, FOU, Zone A, Lagos, Uche Ejesieme, the case had been on since 2013 until the NSC secured conviction on June 29, 2016.
He further revealed that the six persons also cloned the seal of the officer in charge of valuation, Nigeria Customs Service, Idiroko, Ogun State Command and the official seal of valuation seat, Apapa port in Apapa Command.
He added that their action was contrary to the provisions of section 162 (a) and (d) of Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004
“In addition, the six accused persons were also charged for conspiracy under section 166 of Nigeria Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.
“The Legal team of the Nigeria Customs Service was led by Mr. Ajakaye, Julius Iyiola while Mr. O.O Oreyomi appeared for the 1st and 4th accused persons. Mr Ernest Onazi appeared for 2nd and 3rd accused persons while Mr Sunday Okwor for the 5th and 6th accused persons respectively.
Commenting on the judgement, the Controller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A Ikeja, Comptroller Umar Mohammed Dahiru commended the judiciary for its forthrightness in the delivery of judgment as he stated that it will serve as deterrence to others.