Economy Maritime

FOU impounds N2.24bn goods, as Aliyu accuses politicians of fueling smuggling

Border closure: Customs impounds thousands of ammunition, 1072 vehicles, over 19,000 bags of smuggled rice
Written by Maritime First

…EU denies proposed ban on palm oil importation***

The Federal Operations Units (FOU) Zone ‘A’, an anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Thursday said it has intercepted various contraband items, with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N2.24 billion within the past one month, with 28 suspects also arrested.

Subsequently, the FOU Zone “A” boss, noted that politicians, in their bid to buy or reward patronage with gift items ahead of the 2019 elections, were also adding to the rate of smuggling even as the end-of-year festivities approach.

The Command’s Area Controller, Comptroller Aliyu Mohammed disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos, saying the smuggled items included nine bullet-proof Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and 11,000 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, with an approximate DPV of N2.02 billion.

Specifically, there were a total of 89 seizures between Sept. 4 and Oct. 3, during which two bags of military uniforms were also intercepted.

“The unit also recovered the sum of N220.03 million from Demand Notices (DNs) on vehicles and other general goods that had evaded full payment at sea and airports through false/under-declaration or transfer of value, bringing the approximate total to N2.24 billion.

“The items include 22 exotic vehicles with an approximate DPV of N1.18 billion. These comprised four bullet-proof Lexus Jeep LX570 (2016), three bullet-proof Land Cruiser Jeeps (2016), and bullet-proof Mercedes Benz G63 (2014) and S550 (2015).

“Others are three Toyota Hilux (2018), two Toyota Highlander (2018), a unit each of Toyota Rav4 (2015), Toyota Prado (2018), Toyota Land Cruiser (2016), Toyota Corolla, Toyota Fortuner (2017), Toyota Sequoia and Lexus RX 350, among others.

“Also some of the vehicles were intercepted at Ogere and along Ijebu Ode Expressway in Ogun State. The bullet-proof vehicles were trailed and evacuated from some private residences at Victoria Island based on credible information,” Muhammed said.

He explained further that within the period under review that the command also seized 11,303 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (equivalence of 18 trailers) and 2,410 cartons of frozen poultry products.

Among the seized items were 853 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 245 parcels of Indian hemp, 4x40ft container of unprocessed wood, 2,017 bales of used clothing and 283 cartons of various pharmaceutical products without NAFDAC number.

More so, Mohammed advised intending car buyers to verify the authenticity of the import and clearance documents with the appropriate Customs Area Controllers (CACs) at the seaports to avoid unknowingly buying smuggled vehicles with the inherent problems.

He decried the high prevalence of smuggling along the Idi Iroko corridor in spite of the quantity and frequency of seizures over the past one year.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Thursday denied the proposed ban on palm oil importation from Nigeria to the union.

Mr Kurt Cornelis, the Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) indicated this in Abuja saying that the EU had no plan to ban palm oil importation.

Cornelis made the clarification during a sensitisation workshop organised by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) on the proposed ban of palm oil importation to the EU.

“It is not true that the EU was planning to ban palm oil importation to the union from Nigeria.

“We are not considering any ban on oil importation from the third world countries, we think there is some confusion somewhere,’’ he said, noting that on June 30, the EU Parliament and Council actually reached an agreement on bio-fuel for renewable energy, and the directive does not include any propose ban on oil.

He said that the EU would focus on investment and partnership with banks in its next programme that would last for 10 years.

However, Ms Yewande Sadiku, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), said that the commission had received a letter from the Foreign Affairs Ministry that the EU proposed to ban the importation of palm oil to the union. There was however no representative from the foreign affairs office to clarify the source of the letter.

Sadiku, represented by Hajiya Ladi Katagum, the Director in the commission said that the workshop was organized to address the issue, stressing that the objective of the commission was to encourage, promote and coordinate investment in the Nigerian Economy.

According to her, the commission is expected to monitor all investment promotion activities, initiate and support measures which shall enhance the investment climate in Nigeria.

The National President, Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria, Mr Hilary Uche said that the major problem in the country was lack of capacity building for small scale farmers.

Uche who called on the Federal Government to encourage development in the sector as it could create the highest job opportunity in the country, maintained that government needed to be involved in order to ensure standards in the production of palm oil.


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