By Ajibola Abayomi,
December 6, 2017
For some smugglers plying the Nigerian boarders, November 2017 will remain a month of grieve for a long time to come.
Smuggling being one of the challenges affecting the growth of the nation’s economy had assumed different dimensions with different tactics orchestrated by smugglers to beat customs and other the law enforcing agents.
Over the years, the effect and activities of smugglers across the borders have been limiting the patronage of home grown products.
These developments according to the Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mohammed Uba was a major threat not only to the economy but the general wellbeing of Nigerians.
Thus, against this background, on Wednesday 7th December, Uba while addressing the media on the recent seizure recorded by his command in the month of November 2017 told TheLead Online that his men would not relent until all smugglers turned a new leaf or get frustrated out business.
This he said was what motivated his men to ensure that a total of One Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Five Million, One Hundred and Forty One Thousands, One Hundred and Forty Four Naira, Eighty One Kobo (N1,595,141, 144, 81) smuggled worth of goods were seized at different spots in the month.
“On no account will anyone caught in the illegal go free. Nigerians must realise that any patronage for foreign goods especially banned items means additional job for another country while our people remain jobless. This mentality must change; we have a duty to cooperate with the government to develop our own economy together” said the disturbed Controller.
Giving the breakdown of the seizures, he said: “The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit’s anti smuggling operations from 1-30 November, 2017, after intensifying our operational modalities to meet up with the current smuggling tactics most especially as the yuletide draws closer, we have intercepted various contraband with Duty Paid Value (DPV) N1, 595,141, 144, 81.
“The seized items include 64 assorted vehicles mostly brand new, 13,333 bags of foreign parboiled rice in 22 trailers, 1,390 cartoons of frozen poultry products, 835 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 15 parcels of Indian Hemp, 1,101, pieces of used tyres, 205 bales of used policy on rice. All these affect the business our local rice farmers, the millers because it will not encourage Nigerians to patronize our own nutritional rice.
“Also, vehicles include two Lexus Jeep (Bullet Proof), One Toyota Land Cruiser (Bullet Proof), 9 Toyota Hilux, 8 Toyota Hiace Bus, 26 Toyota Corolla, 9 Land cruiser Jeep, 5 Toyota Camry, one Land Rover, a Nissan Sentra, one Pejero Jeep, all 2017 models. Also, a Sienna of 2015 model and one Lexus RX 350 among others luxurious cars were intercepted.
“These 64 assorted vehicles alone have a DPV of One million, Three Hundred and two million, nine hundred and twenty seven thousand, one hundred and six naira, sixteen kobo (N1, 301,927,106.16).
While 57 vehicles were evacuated based on intelligence along Omole Estate, Ojodu and Olayiwole Close Lekki Phase 1, the remaining 7 were intercepted while on information patrol along Ijebu Ode Expressway and Olorunda.”
Lamenting the rate at which some desperate smugglers cheat Nigerians using foreign brand, Uba noted:
“Do you know that some of these so called smugglers will re-bag our own locally produced rice with foreign sack and resell in the market? We caught some of them with several sacks inside the trailer conveying the rice and we were amazed at what they do with it to resell the Nigerian made rice.
“You will be shocked that the smugglers and their agents tried all sort of tricks to beat the customs through false declaration. Let me tell you the relevant sections of the law are very clear. The moment you are caught in that act, smuggling crime has been committed and the goods will be confiscated at the spot without further delay.”
Concerning the fleet of cars intercepted he said: “As I speak with you, nobody has come forward to claim ownership yet because we doubt if they have customs papers on the vehicles, no to talk of End-User Certificate for the bullet proof. Our legal unit has already been mandated to investigate it and as soon as we get any head way about the owners or their agents, we will let the public know.
“Apart from that a total of 17/20 feet containers loaded with wood are under detention on the suspicion that they have not met the required guidelines for export. Also 1/20 feet container was seized for carrying 385 cartoons of Tiffany Crunch n’ Cream biscuit, 2,300 cartoons of Tiffany chocolate and Toffee Sweet as against Engine Block declared in the declaration form. This is clear case of false declaration which is tantamount to seizure.
“Within the period under review, we have also recovered One Hundred and Eight Million, Three Hundred and Six Thousand, Eighteen Naira, Twenty Five Kobo (N108,306,018.25) making a cumulative of One Billion, Seven Hundred and Three Million, Four Hundred and Forty Seven Thousand, One Hundred and Sixty Naira, Six Kobo (N1,703,447,163.06).”
For FOU Controller, the NCS cannot do it alone with the cooperation of Nigerians and other related agencies of government.
He said the fight against smuggling would not have been successful at any level if the public did not make inputs, saying “in the spirit of inter-agency collaboration, the seized items Indian hemp will be handed over to National Drug, Law and Enforcement Administration (NAFDAC) for further investigations.
“However, 5 suspects have been arrested in connection with the 185 seizures and are currently in our custody. Let me thank the Comptroller General of Customs Colonel Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and the entire Management Team of the NCS providing the necessary logistics that brought about these feet.
“ More importantly, let me also thank the media for the continued support to inform, sensitise and educate the general public on the effects of the smuggling on the nation.”