By Ajibola Abayomi
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) ‘Zone C’ of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has recorded 41 seizures of contraband goods worth N543.18 million in the last two months.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bukar Amajam disclosed this at a media briefing in his office at Owerri, recently.
He said that while 20 seizures with Duty Paid Value of (DPV) N314.67 million were made in September, underpayment of N33.81 million was recovered in the same month, through Demand Notices.
He said 21 seizures were made in October with DPV of N228.51 million, while underpayment of N23.50 million was also recorded in the same month.
Amajam identified the items seized in September to include vehicles with worth N211.46 million which were intercepted along Benin axis, 287 bags of 50kg foreign rice with DPV of N8.26 million intercepted along Akwa Ibom and Cross River waterside and Enugu and Benin axis.
Others were 1,306 pieces of empty gas cylinders in a 1x40ft container intercepted along Benin axis with worth N71.86 million as well as 1,901 cartons of foreign Eva complexion soap worth N17.67 million.
The October seizures include 5,733 bags of foreign rice valued at N146.76 million intercepted at Benin Mfum -Eleme- Isiokpo axis and g330 cartons of Tramadol with DPV of N9.05 million intercepted in Benin axis.
8 bags of Indian Hemp and Six cartons of Tramadol and Rophynol worth N1.18 million intercepted in Enugu in addition to six vehicles with DPV of N48.49 million intercepted along Benin axis.
Amajam said the items had since been deposited at the Customs warehouses in Enugu, Calabar and Benin.
He said that 30 suspects, including drivers and conductors, were arrested in connection with the seizures.
The customs Area controller expressed regret that a number of companies lost their new and heavy duty trucks to the Customs due to default in payment of adequate duties.
He said this was because of the criminal indulgence of their drivers who used the vehicles to ferry contraband from one part of the country to another and called on companies to call their drivers to order.
Speaking further, he said that a brand new truck with 10 tyres belonging to one of the prominent manufacturing companies in the country was impounded by the customs on the road while moving bales of banned second hand cloths to a particular destination.
The Customs boss appealed to members of the public to always assist his men with relevant information on unpatriotic activities of smugglers for necessary action.
He called on the media to assist the service in enlightening members of the public on the need to engage in genuine businesses, get proper information from Customs on ways to do business and report any act of smuggling to the Service.
Amajam also advised members of the public who planned to buy car to verify claims by agents from the Customs before making full payment to avoid embarrassment.
In another development, the NCS has arrested a truck conveying 340 bales of clothing materials worth N17 million in Sokoto.
Comptroller Nasir Ahmad, NCS Controller in-charge of Kebbi/Sokoto/Zamfara Command, made this known to newsmen in Sokoto.
He said the seized items were among the list of contraband by the Federal Government.
Ahmad said the seizures were made on Nov. 13 along Sokoto-Illela road.
While displaying the seized items and the truck, he said that the suspects abandoned the truck when they sighted the NCS patrol team.
“The seized contraband has duty paid value of N17 million. Smuggled items are dangerous to health.’’
He also said that the command handed over 52.2kg of Indian-hemp it intercepted along Illela-Sokoto road to officials of National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Ahmad said the items were subjected to verification by relevant statutory regulatory bodies and decried the huge revenue loss to Nigeria because of porous borders.
He said although no arrests was been made in connection with the seizures, the command was determined to check the activities of smugglers.