Customs impounds 13 vehicles from senator

  • Importer, dealer exonerate Saraki over N298m SUV
  • ABU VC clears Melaye of certificate scandal



The Comptroller- General of Customs (CGC) Compliance Task Force has impounded 13 vehicles belonging to a senator in Kano State. The identity of the senator was not revealed.

The seized vehicles were 12 new Toyota Hilux and one Land Cruiser Jeep. A source said the vehicles were smuggled into the country and were part of the 223 impounded vehicles.

The Task Force Zonal Commander, Mr. Bala Dole, who spoke in Kano yesterday, said the 13 vehicles were trailed from Maigatari in Jigawa, following an intelligence report.

Dole said 17 of the senator’s vehicles are still missing and that they are trailing them. “Based on the intelligence report, the vehicles were 30 in number, but we were able to trail 13 of them 12 of which were hidden in the senator’s compound. “We sealed the house and retrieved the vehicles and they are now in our custody,” Dole said the task force confiscated other items during special operations.

“The total value of the seizure made by the task force since it was established in July 2016, excluding the 13 Senator’s vehicles, is N269.5 million. “We are yet to determine the cost of the 13 vehicles belonging to the Senator.” Meanwhile, the importer of the controversial sport utility vehicle (SUV), in which the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was accused of acquiring with fake documents, Mr. Tokunbo Akindele, yesterday, said that Saraki had nothing to do with the importation of the vehicle.

Also, the car dealer, who bought the vehicle from the importer and supplied to the National Assembly, Mr. Lanre Shittu, also said that he did not receive any document from the National Assembly before he facilitated the supply of the SUV to the legislative institution.

This was as the Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba, also cleared Senator Dino Melaye of certificate scandal, proving that the lawmaker graduated from the institution in 2000, with third class degree.

The two businessmen and the Vice Chancellor cleared Saraki and Melaye while appearing before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which was mandated by the Senate to investigate the allegations last week Tuesday.

In his submission, the importer, Akindele, told the Senate committee that the vehicle was first imported for Oando Group of Companies, but it arrived late, when the company no longer needed, thereby compelling the company’s Group Executive Director, Wale Tinubu, to request that he should help resell the vehicle.

According to him, it was then that he contacted the dealer, Lanre Shittu, to market the vehicle, and Shittu in turn approached the National Assembly for it when he saw an advert from the legislative body to purchase such vehicle.

He said: “In 2015, on behalf of the firm that I work for, Oando Plc., we imported a Range Rover bullet proof SUV vehicle. We imported it as the com-pany needed to use it for various operations around the country.

“The car took longer than was expected and by the time it reached Nigeria in September 2015, we decided that we will no longer be using the car, so we effectively parked it.

“The car was not imported for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. In the process of clearing the car, we did not receive any documentation from the National Assembly.

We were not a part of clearing the car, we were the customer, we were expected to receive the car for our own use. “At no point did we submit any fake document for the clearing of the car.

We followed all due process in terms of payment to the company which handled the entire process for us.” In his presentation, Shittu said, “after the consignment of the vehicle from Wale Tinubu, the Oando Group Executive Director, the vehicle came late, they were not able to use it for the purpose which they ordered it for. He approached me on how we can help in selling the vehicle.

“I told him we didn’t have any buyer for now, but that if given on consignment, we would try and sell it off. Not quite long, there was a publication on vehicle acquisition by the National Assembly, in which we are a contractor.

“So, we put in on this vehicle. We were awarded the job to supply the vehicle on consignment from them. We facilitated the supply of the vehicle to the National Assembly.

There was never a time we sold vehicle to Bukola Saraki as a person or delivered a vehicle to him. “It was when the issue of Customs’ interception of the vehicle, sometime in January 2017, that they called attention to my office in Lagos.

And we got in touch with Oando and they sent us the documents in question. This same document was what they sent to Customs, which they said is fake. There was never a time we had any paper from the National Assembly to clear any vehicle.”

When he appeared before the committee chaired by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Saraki stressed that the allegation was not true. Saraki said: “I am not an importer and at no point did I import an SUV Range Rover. As you know, this is a vehicle that is not a personal vehicle. It is a vehicle which was processed through the National Assembly.

I don’t know any-thing about the importation; I did not appoint any clearing agent or anything like that. “So I want to state categorically that this is not true and it is important that I come here and clear my name and put this matter to rest.

“We all raised the issue of the policy that is antipeople in the interest of Nigerians. This policy has no value at all and that was why this motion came up and we debated it in the interest of Nigerians.

But unfortunately, those who want to fight back went and thought there was something to blackmail us with.” In his submission to the committee, Senator Ali Ndume, who was invited as the petitioner, said that he did not petition the Senate, but only raised a point of order to enable the Senate investigate and clear the image of the chamber, which he said was at stake in the eye of the public.

“I did not petition. I raised point of orders 14 and 15. Also, the decision to refer the matter to this committee is not mine. It is the Senate’s decision. I am against anything that is anti-people and I am supposed to be commended for raising the point of order because it was done in public interest.

“I have no personal interest in the allegations against our colleagues, the President of the Senate and Dino Melaye. I don’t have any document to authenticate the allegation apart from what I read in the newspapers,” Ndume stated. Also, in the case of Melaye, he told the committee that he graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University and did his Youth Service at the Police College, Kaduna.

He, however, told the committee that he had not collected his certificate from the university, but has been using his statement of result. He said: “I gained admission with an offer of admission on the 6th of September, 1994 and the admission was to study Bachelor of Arts Geography and a copy of that admission letter will be tendered.

“I also have a second document to tender, my acceptance offer by the university. I also have the third document to tender, which is my result from the Ahmadu Bello University certifying me a graduate of the school.

“I also have here a document for my registration that I tendered where I have C5 in CRS, A3 in Agric, C6 in Economics, C6 in Geography, C6 in Biology and a credit in English.

“I will also tender that as evidence. After my graduation from the Ahmadu Bello University, the school sent my name to the NYSC for the mandatory Service and I participated in the one year NYSC. “I served in Police College Kaduna and by the grace of God, that year I won the National Prize of the DG and it is on record and verifiable and I beg to tender my discharge certificate from NYSC.

“My name as an undergraduate was Daniel Jonah Melaye. Jonah is actually my father’s name, so that is what I have on my university certificate. But Because I am now popularly known as Dino, I applied to the court and asked that I needed an affidavit for change of name and I submitted it to ABU.” In his submission, the Vice Chancellor of the ABU, Prof. Garba, confirmed that the senator graduated from the school in the year 2000.

He said: “From the records of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Senator Dino Melaye, who was at that time named Daniel Jonah Melaye, graduated with a third class degree of the Bachelors of Arts in Geography in the year 2000. And by this, he is a graduate of the university.

“In my honour, I reaffirm that Senator Dino Melaye graduated as Daniel Jonah Melaye during the third semester of the 1998/1999 academic session with a 3rd Class Degree in Geography, that is Bachelors of Arts in Geography.”

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