A businessman and his driver have been arraigned before Lodwar Magistrate’s court for charges of smuggling over 60 tonnes of sugar and 3 tonnes of milk powder from Uganda amounting to over Kshs 5 million in taxes.
Abdihakim Kusow Ali, the owner of the consignment and Philip Kosgei Kirwa, his driver both appeared before Chief Magistrate Mwangi Karimi to separately answer to charges of possession and that of conveying of restricted goods respectively. The court heard that the two accused persons committed the offences on 13th January, 2021 at Nakwamekwi area within Lodwar town.
Kusow Ali faces a charge of possession of 1,436 bags of Mayuge Brown sugar packed in 50 kg and 25 kg and 124 bags of Latto milk powder each weighing 25kg with a total duty value of Kshs 3,895,450. On his part, Philip Kosgei faces a charge of conveying 430 bags of Mayuge Brown sugar with a duty value of Kshs 1,505,000.
Both the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the respective counts and were each granted a bond of Kshs 300,000 or a surety of a similar amount or a cash bail of Kshs 150,000 each. The case will be mentioned on 3rd March 2021.
Importation of sugar is regulated and importers are required to obtain importation licence and a pre- shipment permit for each consignment. The licences and permits are checked by customs officers at the border at the time of importation for clearance and payment of requisite taxes. To avoid these strict customs processes at designated border points such as Lokiriama and Karita, unscrupulous importers smuggle in goods at night through undesignated border points.
The smugglers have also developed a serious network of counter surveillance trailing the movement of KRA officers and other government agencies charged with border security. However, KRA strives to detect and disrupt all tax evasion schemes and prosecute suspects to ensure that all importers comply with customs regulations and pay their fair share of taxes.
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