By Oyeniyi Iwakun
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) through the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Ikeja Zone “A” has again saved the nation of a cumulative sum of Seven Hundred and Eighty Three Million, Six Hundred and Forty Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Three Naira, two kobo (783,649,203.2) which could have been lost to smuggling activities in the last three weeks.
The seizures comprise 27 assorted smuggled vehicles worth N228,215,429, including; Toyota Prado Jeep, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Highlander, Mercedes Benz among others, ranging from 2007 to 2013 models respectively. Three containers were also seized for false declaration with a duty paid value (DPV) N303,260,671 and Sixteen (16) suspects have been arrested in connection with these 54 seizures and through interventions recovered N252,173,201.25 from duty payments and demand notices on general goods. This amounts to a total sum 783,649,203.
The FOU Ikeja Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba, while showcasing the seizures, reaffirmed the commitment of the command to suppressing smuggling as he sent strong warnings to smugglers in the south west zone to desist from illegal trade.
The comptroller also reminded the public of the existing Federal government’s policies on ban on rice and vehicles importation through the land borders and assured that traders who engage in legitimate trade would have no reason to be afraid.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Government policies banning the importation of Rice and Vehicles through the land borders are still in force. Nigeria Customs Service remains tenacious in its determination to enforce these policies. As we enter ‘ember’ month this weekend when economic activities strives to boom, let me use this opportunity to send this warning message to smugglers within south west zone to desist from such illegal trade as we are well equipped with all necessary arsenal to cripple Smugglers and send them out of their illegitimate businesses.
“I urge all compliant traders not to exercise any fear while embarking on their legitimate businesses but to be honest in their declarations because as one of the enforcement agencies of Government, we will continue to work towards ensuring compliance with all extant laws governing imports and exports in Nigeria” The Customs Boss said.
The customs boss who expressed gratitude to the Comptroller General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and the entire Management Team of the NCS for providing necessary incentives also commended the cooperation and assistance of the press, other security agencies most especially the military and the police for their continuous support in curbing crime in the country.
Meanwhile, the seized Indian hemp and the Medicaments were handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and NAFDAC “in the spirit of inter-agency collaboration” for thorough investigation.