Tinapa: Customs’ Excesses Stir Unease, Fears Of Shutdown

CustomsMANAGEMENT of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) and Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort have raised alarm over attempts by the Nigerian Customs to shut down Tinapa.

Contrary to the law guiding the operations of Tinapa, which allows customers to enter the zone and buy items below N50,000 without paying any duties, men of the Nigerian Customs, for the past few days, have allegedly prevented persons from this privilege.

Three customers said, “we bought washing machines at N35,000 each, and for each person, but the customs man at Tinapa gate, who simply gave his name as Sadiq, stopped us and insisted we paid duties, even though, for each person, what we bought was below N50,000. He (Sadiq) said he was seizing the items with orders from above.”

According to one of the customers who gave his name as Rev. Oganiru, “three of us were in the car, and we came to buy washing machines in Tinapa. But the customs said we must pay duties. This is wrong because what we bought was not up to N50,000 each. I think this is fraudulent on the part of customs.”

Another customer, two days ago, was said to have had her bag of rice, worth N6,500, seized by customs.

Spokesman for Customs in Calabar, Mr. Daniel Tule, however, denied the allegation saying, “The story is not true. Customs knows the rule as far as Tinapa is concerned. We want to ensure due process.

“What we are trying to enforce in Tinapa is that the rules or law concerning its establishment are enforced. But some people are not happy because they want to deny the federal government of revenue.”

Reacting to the development at the weekend, the Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr. Shina Agboluaje, said, “there is no such order. What the customs in Calabar is doing is disrupting activities at Tinapa. This is a deliberate attempt by Customs to close down the place.

“I am not aware of such an order, but all the same, I will check with the Comptroller General of Customs (Dikko Abdullah) who for the past years has been very cooperative on the growth of Tinapa. It is wrong for customs to stop people at the gate. This is not in line with the law.

“This is just individuals taking the laws into their hands. This matter has been settled long ago. We cannot afford to be going forward and backward on a policy of government. It amounts to indiscipline.”

Agboluaje condemned the actions of the customs officials saying, “last week somebody carried a bag of rice and it was seized at the gate. And two days ago, three persons were stopped at the gate regarding three washing machines. Customs said it is order from above.

“We don’t know what the problem is. For three years, we have successfully managed ourselves with customs and the gazette without any problem. We have had several Customs Comptrollers here since the gazette, yet there was no problem. But now they want to kill Tinapa.”