The Federal Operations Unit (F.O.U.) Zone ‘A’, an anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Ikeja, between May 16 and June 12 intercepted contraband goods with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.34 billion and through other interventions, recovered N59.50 million.
The Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, made this known while addressing newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to him, the DPV of the seizures and interventions within the period under review accumulated to N1.40 billion.
The interventions he also explained, were made from duty payments and demand notices on general goods that tried to beat the system from seaports, airports and border stations, in the guise of false declaration.
He highlighted that 12 suspects were arrested in connection with the 112 seizures.
Uba said that the seizures were: 15 vehicles including three Toyota C-HR (2018 model); 1 Toyota Camry LE 2018; 1 Toyota Prado 2018; 1 Toyota Hilux 2017; 1 Ford F150 2017; 1 Pajero Jeep 2017; and 1 Mercedes Benz 2017, among others.
“Other seizures include 9,049 bags of foreign parboiled rice in 15 trailers; 1,464 cartons of frozen poultry products; 870 jerry cans of vegetable oil; 273 bales of used clothing; and 592 pieces of used tyres.
“A total of four containers have been seized for false declaration. Two of the containers were carrying 8,633 pieces of empty cylinders as against plumbing materials declared in their Single Goods Declaration (SGD) forms.
“The other two containers had 120 bales of new jeans as against punching machines declared in the SGD,’’ the controller said.
According to him, to ensure full implementation of the government policy banning the importation of rice through land borders and following headquarters’ directive, the command has re-strategised its operational modalities.
The controller said that the command had continued to beam its searchlight on the creeks, waterside and at various locations in Southwest zone, which led to the massive seizure of rice within the period under review.
Uba said that the unit would continue to ensure that smugglers within its areas of jurisdiction count their losses until they repent from sabotaging the economy.
“Any patrol vehicle you see, whether Customs or FRSC or Police, must book their operations and the purpose of their going out, and when they return they will close the record. If our patrol team goes out and bring in contrabands or seized goods, it will immediately be transferred to the Customs headquarters
“One major reason why government frowns at smuggling, apart from bringing in unemployment into the economy, is because there are no records of goods coming in or going out.
“During festive period people want to smuggle in more of the food they consume to be able to eat more, the Customs also spread their anti-smuggling tentacles to prevent such contrabands from being smuggled into the country,” he noted.
The CAC said he had advised big companies, such as Dangote and Nigerian Breweries whose vehicles are mostly used for smuggling activities, that whenever they are employing drivers, they should be sure of their credibility; this is to avoid such drivers denting the image of the companies they work for.
He said that the seizures or detention of such vehicles causes loss of money to these companies and in turn affect the turn-over of excise duties meant to be paid to Customs by these companies.
“For the corporate world, dealing with human beings is a difficult thing, these companies cannot sack all their drivers at once as this would affect their businesses; but we have been assured that they would work towards preventing the use of their vehicles for smuggling purposes, so as to prevent seizure or detention of the vehicles in future”.
When speaking on the seized exotic vehicles, Comptroller Uba said that most vehicles were in detention for non- production of the Customs document or not paying the complete customs duty on such vehicles.
“Once the required documents are produced and appropriate money has been paid, which must have been confirmed by the Customs headquarters based on appropriate documents and that procedures has not been violated, the vehicles will be released to the owners. This is the secret of trade facilitation,” he stated.
He, however, commended the media for the partnership in sensitising and educating the general public on the evil of smuggling.
Uba urged economic saboteurs and fraudulent importers as well as agents to invest their resources in legitimate trade and desist from smuggling activities.