By Ray Ugochukwu and David Oladimeji
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, has in less than one month impounded more luxury vehicles belonging to unnamed wealthy Nigerians.
The Unit’s Controller, Mohammed Garba Uba, made the revelation Wednesday in his Ikeja office while briefing journalists over the unit’s February exploits in anti-smuggling operations.
Recall that early February, the Unit had shown media men round 31 smuggled exotic vehicles with duty paid value (DPV) of N1.62 billion and other items it impounded in January from smugglers.
The seized automobiles were four Rolls Royce, one Porche Panamera, one Jaguar, one Bentley, two Lexus Jeep, two G Wagon, one Toyota Land Cruiser, five Toyota Corolla and seven Mercedes Benz.
This time, the anti-smuggling para-military outfit impounded one Rolls Royce, one Chrysler, one Audi Q7, one Land Rover HSE, one Toyota Venza, one Ford Taurus, one Honda Cross tour, four Mercedes Benz, three Kia Rio, one Escalade, among others of various type ranging from 2008 to 2015 model. In all the vehicles had a duty paid value of N303.4 million.
Speaking at an interactive session with journalists, the Controller identified other seized items in the period under review as 4,201 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 2,619 cartons of frozen poultry products and 1,105 jerrycans of vegetable oil. Others he said were 2,637 pieces of used tyres, 1,333 bales of used clothing, 2,001 kg of Pangolin, 343kg of Elephant Tusks, among others.
Uba informed that for the month of February 2018, the intercepted items by the Unit had a duty paid value (DPV) of N1.1 billion.
He explained that while some of the vehicles were intercepted along Ijebu Ode Expressway, others were evacuated from a car shop located in Lekki, Lagos.
“Remarkably within the month under review, the Warehouse Operations Team led by Assistant Comptroller Mutalib Sule while on intelligence raided an apartment at No. 38, Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos and evacuated the following:
- 55 sacks Of Pangolin Shells weighing 2001kg Valued At N408,319,317.6 (Four Hundred And Eight Million, Three Hundred And Nineteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Seven Naira Only).
- 218 pieces Of Elephant Tusk weighing 343Kg And Valued At 85,156,649.96 (Eighty Five Million, One Hundred And Fifty Six thousand, Six Hundred and Forty Nine Naira, Ninety Six Kobo Only)”.
He added, “You will recall that the responsibilities of the Nigeria Customs Service have undoubtedly increased tremendously overtime because of the implementation of different International protocols and conventions. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered species (CITES 1973) entails that Customs Administration globally protects wild life by intercepting illegal trade on such animals. It further prevents the killings of endangered species since the tusks are only available after the killing of the elephant and pangolin. In the spirit of inter-agency collaboration, the seized pangolin and tusks have been be handed over to Nigeria Environment Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for further investigation in collaboration towards protecting our natural habitat, which you all witnessed earlier.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our action is in-line with the provisions of Sections 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (power to search premises), Section 158 of CEMA, Cap 45 Laws of Federation of Nigeria (power to patrol freely).
“Also, a 1/20ft container no. CAIU0961053 was seized for false declaration, which is tantamount to seizure.Seventeen (17) suspects have been arrested in connection with these 90 seizures including Mr. KO Sin Ying, a Chinese national
“Within the period under review, we have also recovered Sixty Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Forty Five Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Eight Naira, (N67,945,158.00) from demand notices raised on goods intercepted while attempting to beat the system through transfer of value and under declaration, making a cumulative of One Billion, One Hundred and Three Million, One Hundred and Seventy Seven Thousand, Two Hundred and Four Naira only, (N1,103,177,204)”.
“Let me thank you, members of the media for your continued support to inform, sensitize and educate the general public on the effects of smuggling to the nation’s economy”, he concluded.