By Louis Ibah
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) announced at the weekend that it has handed over to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) two Helicopters illegally imported into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos mid-November 2016. According to the Customs Area Controller for the Lagos Airport Command, Frank Allanah the two Helicopters had to be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) following the inability to immediately ascertain who the importers were for them to produce the end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA). He said the helicopters were air freighted into the country in a container with Airway Bill Number 17232444403, but we’re subsequently seized and detained at the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL).
He said the importation of the two helicopters without permits from the office of the NSA contravenes Section 36 ( 2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act. “The unknown importer could not produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA) an act which contravenes section 36 sub section two Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 . Consequently seizure was effected on November 7, 2016 in line with section 46 of CEMA,” said Allanah
“Upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models 412 EP of serial numbers 36608 and 36606 Bell Helicopters respectively,” , in standard configuration and 23 packages said to contain their accessories weighing eleven thousand four hundred and seventy five kilogrammes ( 11,075 kg),” he added. He said all legal issues were considered before Customs seized the choppers. Sources at the Lagos Airport cargo terminal however told aviation correspondents that the two Bell Helicopters could have been imported by one of the Niger Delta goverors.
“The transactions may not have been properly documented, forcing the current government to concede to Customs that the choppers be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force,” said the source. The two Bell choppers and accessories will be taken to the Nigerian Air Force hangar at the Lagos Airport for full examination in collaboration with Customs officials .