The United Kingdom authorities have apprehended a Nigerian national for smuggling more than 83,000 cigarettes into Newcastle International Airport. Samuel Onyemenam was caught carrying his luggage on a flight from Nigeria via Germany. Border Force officers X-rayed three of his suitcases and found that two of them were filled with cigarettes.
The Newcastle Magistrates’ Court was informed that a total of 83,600 cigarettes were found, which would have carried a duty worth £28,000. Onyemenam, who hails from Chantry Close in Abbey Wood, London, was arrested and pleaded guilty to illegally evading duty when he appeared in court last week.
According to the Daily Mail, the 50-year-old claimed that the cigarettes were for his cousin, and he made no financial gains from the scheme. However, District Judge Jayne Bryan did not accept his claims and stated that he must provide evidence to support his story. The judge adjourned the case until 3 May and warned Onyemenam that if he fails to show up, a warrant could be issued for his arrest.
Prosecutor Rob Lawson informed the court that Onyemenam arrived at Newcastle International Airport on a flight from Nigeria via Germany on 26 November 2022. He had three suitcases with him, and two of them contained a large quantity of cigarettes. The duty evaded was estimated to be £28,530.17.
Paul Kennedy, Onyemenam’s defense counsel, said that his client had no past convictions and stood by his claim that the offense was an opportunistic, one-off event. However, it remains to be seen whether the court will accept his defense during the trial of issue.
This incident is an example of the efforts of UK authorities to clamp down on the illegal importation of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The smuggling of such items not only results in the loss of revenue for the government but also undermines public health efforts to reduce smoking rates. It is crucial to continue efforts to prevent the smuggling of tobacco products and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.