Customs impounds goods worth over N572M in Lagos


The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Zone ‘A’, Ikeja Lagos has intercepted various contraband items ranging from imported frozen poultry products, foreign parboiled rice, vehicles, vegetable oil, trucks of unprocessed teak woods and other general merchandise recently.

The Command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Uche Ejesieme in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday said that the disclosure was made by the Controller Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’, Comptroller Umar Mohammed Dahiru while on inspection tour of the warehouse with senior officers in the Unit for on the spot assessment of the latest seizures recorded by the Unit.

The Controller stated that a total of four thousand, nine hundred and eleven (4,911) bags of 50kg parboiled rice, fifteen thousand and forty eight (15,048) cartons of imported frozen products, one thousand, eight hundred and eighty four (1,884) vegetable oil, seventeen (17) trucks of unprocessed teak woods and an unspecified number of general merchandise were intercepted by his operatives through intelligence.

He stated that the latest onslaught came against the backdrop of the recent directive on the ban of Rice importation through the land borders by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Management.

The FOU ‘A’ boss gave the Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the seized items aside the teak wood as five hundred and seventy two million, one hundred thousand, six hundred naira (N572, 100,700.00) only.

The Controller stated further that three (3) brand new Toyota Prado jeeps were also intercepted during the same period, even though their status could not be ascertained as at the time of this report.

He however, confirmed that the agent had been requested to produce the Customs documents which would expectedly provide the necessary clue on the status of the vehicles.

The Controller emphatically pointed out that what made the seizures of the frozen poultry products remarkable was the circumstances and mode of concealment of the frozen poultry products adding that most of the seized frozen poultry products were carefully concealed with frozen fish ostensibly to divert the attention of the operatives.

He confirmed that at other instances, cooling vans were used in concealing the products with the same criminal intent.

On the issue of Rice, the Controller clarified that importation of rice was only restricted for now to the seaports as against the border stations and warned rice importers to adhere very strictly to the latest policy or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.

On the visit of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) with some members of his Management to Zone ‘A’ recently, he stated that it was aimed at strengthening operational ties with the critical stakeholders as well as to brainstorm on areas of hiccups with a view to ensuring seamless collaborations that would enhance the revenue generation capacity of the Nigeria Customs.

According to the Controller, “The Comptroller-General of Customs and his Management are working tirelessly despite the present harsh economic challenges to re-position the Service for greater efficiency and functionality”.

He commended the CGC and his Management for providing logistic support to the Unit and promised that everything humanly possible would be done to ensure practical decimation and degradation of smugglers in the South West and by extension the entire nation.

“In area of logistic support, I would like to appreciate the CGC, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his Management for providing necessary equipment which has enabled us to frontally deal with smuggling. Just recently we took delivery of new weapons – AK 47 rifles and ammunition to compliment the ones in our armoury. It has really gone a long way in giving us a comparative advantage against these economic terrorists”, he said.

On the issue of trade facilitation, the Controller stated that Nigeria was a signatory to the ECOWAS treaty on trade facilitation/liberalization and cannot afford to go contrary to the letters and spirit of the treaty saying that,“The Service is a compliant organization and we are determined to deliver services in line with World Customs Organization (WCO) standards, because we are key elements of WCO”.

The Controller expressed his readiness to tackle smuggling noting that, “The Unit is working in tandem with the change mantra and ideology of the present Management to ensure that all areas of revenue leakages are blocked, using scientific methods. These smugglers can be very daring because most times you see them welding sophisticated weapons, but the cheering news is that we have superior fire power and are always steps ahead of them. We need the partnership of all Nigerians through credible intelligence to help the Unit in its campaign against smuggling”.

He however, assured that legitimate and compliant importers would always receive the support of the Unit in line with the policy of trade facilitation; while admonishing those with dubious intents to turn a new leaf.

He pointed at some of challenges faced by the Unit, particularly the ignorance of some rural dwellers who did not see anything wrong in smuggling.

The Controller promised that the concept of Customs Community Relations (CCR) would be revived for the education and sensitization of the populace, particularly those dwelling at the communities where smugglers operate, on the dangers of smuggling to the socio-economic development of the nation.

On his advice to smugglers, he restated his resolve to deal ruthlessly with them adding that, “as long as they are ready to circumvent the fiscal policies of the Federal Government in terms of trade; we will continue to arrest and prosecute them as a deterrent to others”.

He further stated that the Service would continue to strategize to meet the dynamics of the current situation which called for resilience and doggedness.

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