The Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has seized two civil models Bell Helicopters brought into the country by unknown importers.
The Service immediately handed over the helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force for use in the fight against insurgency.
The NCS accused the importers of the said items of failure to produce the end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA), thus contravening Section 36 (2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act.
Addressing newsmen at the command’s office at the Lagos Airport yesterday, the Customs Area Controller, Frank Allanah, said the duty value of the two helicopters and other accessories was about N9,757,135,240.86.
Speaking during the handover of the choppers, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the two Bell choppers and accessories would be taken to the Nigerian Air Force hangar at the Lagos Airport for full examination in collaboration with Customs officials.
He described the handover as a milestone, because the configuration of the aircraft is fitted for military combat operations.
He said the presidential approval for the release of the two helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force would help to fight the war against insurgency and internal security engagement.
Investigations however revealed that the two Bell Helicopters were imported by a state government in the South South in the twilight of a former administration in the state.
But industry sources hinted that the transactions might not have been documented, forcing the current administration in the state to concede that the choppers be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
In a telephone interview, an official of SAHCOL said he could not confirm if the choppers were imported by a state government.
He said Customs reserves the right to seize any aircraft or imported item if the importer fails to show up for clearance and payment of necessary duty.
The command, he said, made several seizures of elephant tusks, foreign currencies and other items.