Female Banker, Nigeria Customs Bicker Over Bag At Airport - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Female Banker, Nigeria Customs Bicker Over Bag At Airport

A banker, Mrs. Udensi Adaeze Nwagboliwe, who returned to the country from London has narrated her ordeal in the hands of the Operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, accusing the Operatives and the Service of subjecting her to unwarranted pains over import duty on a mini bag.

Mrs Udensi who arrived the Airport on Saturday, October 18, alleged that two Operarives of the NCS identified as Ms Essien and T. Abdulrahman singled her out for the harrowing experience because of her "gender and tribe," and took to the social media to express her pains and disappointment but the Nigeria Customs Service has since dismissed her outburst as a "misleading narrative."

She stated:"I want to share my experience at the Abuja International Airport so you all are in the know of what is going on in our country, Nigeria.

"I arrived Abuja from London yesterday October 18, 2019 at about 4.30am with  one pair of trainers and one  mini boy bag bought at the duty free shop in Heathrow. For the records, I am a banker. I am not a trader. 

"To my shock, Customs at Abuja airport headed by one Ms Essien and T. Abdulrahman said these do not qualify as personal effects and calculated duty payment of about N175,000 for me to pay. Most shocking to me was that I was the only passenger on that flight BA 083 from London that was singled out for this treatment.

"My question now is, what are Nigerians able to buy when they travel? Ms Essien says that Nigerians are only entitled to N50,000 worth of goods. Everything above N50,000 is considered luxury and dutiable. I pointed out to her that some one who had shoes had just been released by same Customs without any charge and to my shock she said that it’s because he put his feet in it already. 

"So, I asked her that does it then mean that all I needed to do for this trainers not to be seized by Nigerian Custom was to simply remove it from the box and wear it and it seizes to be a luxury good and duty exempt, she said “yes”.  

"I told her that does this not then show her that this law enables her the opportunity to apply common sense when she sees Nigerians with just one trainers and one mini boy bag? She refused to answer. I asked her to allow me put my feet in my trainers and if it’s not my size, apply duty and she refused.

"Ms Essien and Tijani Adulrahman were so filled with hatred in such an airport that they refused to do the right thing. I was one of the first 10 passengers to disembark from the aircraft and get to Customs. I was the very last person to leave airport after my one pair of trainers and one mini boy bag had been seized and T. Abdulrahman was done ‘punishing’ me. 

"As apolitical as I am having gone to a federal school in the north when federal schools were federal schools and was a Senior Prefect/Head Girl, I believe I was treated this way because of my gender and tribe. I literally wept for my country Nigeria yesterday. 

"People like Tijani Abdulrahman and Essien are the very worst of the breed and have no reason to be found working in an airport like Abuja. He is an embarrassment to the country. 

"We must rise up and condemn this outrageous dimension by the Nigerian Customs. We must rise up against this tyranny as a people. Today it is Adaeze. Tomorrow, it could be you. I rest my case. Please feel to share."

But responding, the Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, in a release on behalf of the Comptroller-General of Customs, accused Mrs Undensi of attempting to incite the public against the Service.

Attah stated: "The attention of the Nigeria Customs Service has been drawn to a misleading narrative by one Mrs. Udensi Adaeze Nwagboliwe whose claim of being ill treated at the airport on the bases of her gender, tribe or where she comes from is going viral on the social media.

"Mrs. Nwagboliwe who arrived the country onboard BA083 with passport No. A07994773 at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport had claimed that she was singled out and slammed with Customs Duty payment for one pair of shoes and "a mini boy bag” that should have been allowed to pass freely as personal effects.

"There is therefore the need to make public what actually transpired to put the record straight, especially as she maliciously introduced gender, tribal and other unnecessary sentiments into what was simply a case of being told to pay duty as what was in her possession was far above the allowable value of N50,000.00 and certainly beyond what normal discretion would allow.

"Upon routine search of this passenger's luggage, operatives discovered a Loius Vuitton bag and shoe. Obviously knowing the luxury brand (Loius Vuitton), she was asked to produce the receipt which will be the bases for duty calculation or not. She could not produce the receipt of what she claimed she bought at the duty free shop at the point of departure, saying the receipt was with her husband who did not travel with her.

"The officers had to take the long route of ascertaining the current worth of her items through the internet. The luxury items were found to be worth N570,467.40k.

"Consequently, appropriate duty assessment of N165, 692.25k was made and given to her to pay into Federal Government coffer. Since she could not immediately go and pay, a detention notice was given to her showing that the items will remain with the Nigeria Customs Service until she pays and brings evidence of payment before they will be released to her.

"Instead of paying the assessed duty and pick up her items or request to see any superior officer should she have any reservation on the assessed value, she took to irresponsible use of the social media drawing all sorts of conjectures, gender (even when the officer, Ms Essien who attended to her is a lady), tribe etc and even inciting the public against the Service.

"Up till now, it is not clear why this lady would descend this low as to insulting a fellow woman and declaring her not fit to perform her duty and still find it convenient to complain of being ill treated on the bases of gender.

"Since her attempt to evade duty payment by refusing to produce receipt could not work, it appears convenient to transfer reluctance to pay tax into
unnecessary public incitement.

"For the avoidance of doubt, we are aware that many Nigerians complain about the allowable amount of N50,000.00, but until the law is changed, Nigeria Customs Service will continue to enforce the extant law that says personal effects shall not exceed the value of N50,000.00. Anything more than the approved value is considered Merchandise in Baggage and therefore liable for duty payment.

"We therefore call on members of the public to disregard these conjectures and give assurances of our resolve to treat all Nigerians with deserved courtesy and respect in the discharge of our statutory functions."

From Jane Okafor, Abuja

No comments:

Post a Comment