Mr. Kayode Colin Farinto, MD Wealthy Honey Investment Nigeria Limited and ANLCA vice president.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The last has seemingly not been heard about the unfortunate shooting incident which occurred around the mile 2 area of Lagos on the 17th of March this year.
A licensed Customs Agent and the MD of Wealthy Honey Investment Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kayode Colin Farinto organised a press conference to shed more light on the incident. He said that “as a stakeholder and genuine agent, I feel compelled to let the world know the true position of the incident”.
Mr. Farinto invited all the relevant bodies local and international to move to protect the poor and the defenceless and to urgently rise to the occasion, and ensure that justice is done especially on this matter. He noted that he had to change the hospital where Mr. Adeyemi was getting treatment for his own safety.
It will be recalled that one Salau Quadri Adeyemi a.k.a Wale Balogun who is a manager with a licensed customs agency was shot while trying to move the Toyota Rav4 2019 model that he had just helped to clear from the premises of the Port Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML) terminal which is under the Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service. His hospital bill has since been paid by the FOU zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service under which the shooting officer serves, but the vehicle that Mr. Adeyemi cleared is still in the custody of the unit.
Mr. Farinto said that on the statement made by the Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah, the Customs National Public Relations Officer on the unfortunate incident at Mile Two that he goofed. He said that his statement was misleading Nigerians to believe that what happened at mile two was as a result of miscreants who attempted to take the gun off the officer. He challenges DC Attah to provide the proof of his allegations”.
Mr. Farinto said that there are two types of offences that could be committed before someone is arrested by a Customs Officer and they are, duty evasion and duty avoidance and that Mr. Adeyemi never committed any of these acts.
‘‘He insisted that the vehicle was duly released and that Mr. Adeyemi took delivery of it and drove it out of the port, but that at a point along the Apapa Oshodi expressway at Mile, he was accosted by a team of the roving officers of the Federal Operations Unit. One of the team members, who we suspect was not in a stable mind then shot the agent”.
What happened was that a customs licensed agent, having followed the due process of a clearance procedure, applied for valuation on 2019 RAV4 Toyota model and the vehicle was valued at over $12,000 with the surface duty of N1.7 million and other charges which amounted to N2.345million which he duly paid. He noted that the Customs board do register them as clearing firms, but that they can delegate functions and duties to staff. He insisted that Mr. Adeyemi was working with a licensed Customs brokerage firm and that made him a genuine customs broker unlike what Attah would want the world to know. He noted that certain aspects of the law also grants rebates on certain conditions for imported vehicles and that these were taken into consideration when the duty on this particular vehicle was made.
Salau Quadri Adeyemi on the treatment table after the gunshot.
Mr. Farinto said that instead of the Customs to openly apologise for what had happened and accept that it was a mistake, they are trying to label the victim a miscreant and a tout and one who is not a freight forwarder.
Ha said that under the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) there is what is called precarious liability which means that whatever any of the staff does, the owner of the license under whom the staff operates will be held liable. This particular staff paid all the duty accrued to the government. Mr. Farinto wondered “if an agent like Mr. Adeyemi who followed the due process to get the vehicle cleared could be treated this shabbily, what could then happen to a smuggler”. He stated that the men of the FOU are not trained to handled the issue valuation, but are only meant to refer you back to the valuation department if they find an infraction on the payment.
Farinto said having paid all the necessary duty and charges, the FOU team had no justification to accost the agent and even shoot the young man who did not even have as little as a fire cracker with him at the time of the incident. He declared that Nigerians deserve to know the truth and so Journalists should do thorough investigation into the matter.
He accused the Customs of hiding under the absence of uniform tariffs on vehicles which he alleged they use to harass agents by issuing arbitrary rates on same vehicle of import. He stressed that on several occasions, he had personally asked that he be given the uniform tariff on vehicles which has never been granted.
”The officer who pulled the trigger was psychologically unstable by our own investigation and and he has been influenced by the use of psychotropic substance, he should be subjected to a psychiatric evaluation, he said that Nigerians will be surprised at the level of psychotropic substance in the officer’s body if he is properly tested”.
”You may recall that one junior officer sometime ago declared himself as the Comptroller General of Customs. That incident has been hushed up and I urge the press to unearth the matter as that was an example of someone acting under the influence of a substance.
”I challenge the Customs to bring out the officer who shot our colleague and subject him to psychiatric analysis and clinical examination he insisted”.
He noted that When the agent was shot, this particular officer was even making further threat to force him to drink water so that he could die. There is no sensible officer with weapon who will say that to an unarmed civilian. We are not at war here, he lamented.
Farinto again appealed to the general public, especially the civil society groups, to rise up and help the wounded Customs broker get justice.
DC Attah, Joseph, the Customs National PRO.
On the part of the Nigeria Customs Service, we tried to get their own side of the story and the Customs National PRO, DC Attah, Joseph insisted that he stands by the press release from the Customs on the day that the incident occurred. DC Attah also added that the man that was shot is not a Customs Licensed Agent and moreover the correct duty was not paid on the vehicle which is the reason why a demand notice has been issued on the vehicle to the tune of Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only, this will be paid before the vehicle can be eventually released. He concluded.