- As Edede seeks collaboration, synergy to boost MMA Customs revenue
Barely a month in the saddle, the new Customs Area Controller (CAC), of the Oyo/Osun Customs Command, Comptroller Udo-Aka Emmanuel, on Wednesday sent noteworthy signals to smugglers in his jurisdiction, as he paraded a truck and six Mazda buses, all loaded with smuggled bags of imported rice and kegs of foreign vegetable oils.
Udo-Aka who supervised the counting of the smuggled items in Ibadan, shortly after addressing journalists gave the total bags of rice as 853 bags of 50kg and 395 kegs of 25litres vegetable oil, with a Duty Payment Value (DPV) on the rice as N14,603,306, while that of the vegetable oil was N3,076,159.
Giving a breakdown of the figures of the items, the CAC said the 12-tyre DAF truck with registration number MUS 203 XL had 600 bags while the Mazda buses with registration numbers XB 330 GBH; XF 571 NRK; RLG 123 XA and KJA 701 XJ were loaded with 200 bags each.
“The smugglers took advantage of the recent mass deployment of officers and men in Nigeria Customs Service to indulge in their unwholesome activities with the belief that we will be caught off guard.
“We will continue to reiterate our stand on zero tolerance for revenue leakage and reduction of smuggling to the bearest minimum by bringing the economic saboteurs to book and face the long arm of the law.
“Our resolve to rid this axis of recalcitrant and unpatrotic Nigerians who engage in nefarious activities is a bond we must keep. The ban on importation of rice by the Federal Government through the land borders in order to transform and improve our agriculture sector is still in place, and Customs is committed to implementing this Federal Government policy to the letter.
“These seized bags of rice have been stored in warehouse in Benin Republic without proper pest control, making them prone to all manner of pest. We should also understand that most of these smuggled products have exceeded their shelf life and therefore expired and are not safe for consumption. Yet they are re-bagged and relabeled and dumped in our country.
“We also know that as long as smuggling thrives, our economy will never pick up; our industries will do well if smuggling is checked. Smuggling kills the economy but enriches the smuggler.
“We appeal to well-meaningful citizens of Nigeria to willingly assist in volunteering information about the smugglers, their agents and collaborators, and we promise to treat any given information with utmost confidentiality”, he stated further, highlighting that no suspect was arrested in the anti smuggling operations which resulted in the stupendous seizures, warning that the smugglers may however not be so lucky in subsequent encounters, as anyone caught, would be visited with the full weight of the law.
“The drivers and conductors abandoned the vehicles and ran away on sensing that they have been trapped by the patrol team”, he explained, adding that his officers allowed them to escape, so as to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.
He stated that the command was fast altering it’s modus operandi, with special emphasis on intelligence gathering towards arresting the suspects; while appealing to members of the public to willingly volunteer information on the activities of smugglers.
Udo-Aka also urged the media to help in sensitising the members of the public on the implication of the menace of smuggling, maintaining that smuggling does not only affect the economy of the country, but equally puts the health of the people at risk.
The Command image maker, Onuigbo ifeoma Ojekwu who echoed the Comptroller’s view noted that the seizures were effected at different border points in Oyo State, especially along the Iseyin-Oyo Road, barely one month after the assumption of duty of the new area controller of the Command.
In the meantime, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command, Lagos, Comptroller Emmanuel Edede, on Tuesday begun a visit to heads of Federal Government agencies at the airport, as part of a bid to create rapport and synergy, to boost his revenue.
His message was encompassing to every stakeholder he visited: let us collaborate to carry out fiscal and economic policies of the Federal Government.
The Controller said his visits were meant to seek the cooperation and understanding of other agencies, so that the Service could effectively carry out its duties at the airport, while equally lending support to other agencies, because no agency of government could achieve every thing by working alone.
But, he honestly appealed to all agencies to support the Murtala Muhammed Customs Command, particularly in the area of revenue collection and suppression of smuggling at they airport.
“All agencies of government need to collaborate by sharing vital information timely.
“In Adamawa where I am coming from, the military and para-military agencies had a good inter-agency relationship. Intelligence was promptly shared, especially as regards smuggling by Boko Haram.
“This to a large extent helped to improve revenue and reduced smuggling significantly,’’ Edede explained.
Presently, the Controller has visited the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS), Nigerian Air Force, the Nigeria Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and National Foods, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), all of which pledged to accord Customs the necessary support in the discharge of their duties.
He also met with officials of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) as well as their members in an interactive session, whose members also pledged to work with the Controller in order to ensure trade facilitation at the command.
He assured the agents of an open-door policy and told them to feel free to see him anytime they have complaints.
Edede, however, said the agents must obey the rules and regulations, do honest declarations and avoid cutting corners if they want to enjoy Customs’ support.
He said if all stakeholders could meet all requirements by making honest declarations and paying appropriate duty on their cargoes, there shall be no delays in cargo clearance.
“We have a clear mandate on revenue, which we shall not compromise.
“As long as the right thing is done, I can assure you that no officer will delay your cargo,’’ Edede assured.