By Ray Ugochukwu
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday announced that goods worth N1.6 billion were seized in the past three weeks.
According to the Customs Controller Mohammed Uba, the items involved including exotic cars, were intercepted between March 19 and April 9.
Uba said the intercepted goods had a duty paid value (DPV) of N1.4 billion while the sum of N166.2 million was realized from payment of demand notices (DN) on general goods from seaports, airport and border stations.
Uba said this was due to wrong classification, transfer of value, and short payment in duty payment meant for the coffer of Federal Government of Nigeria.
Other seized items, the Comptroller said, included Indian hemp, 64 exotic vehicles, 6003 bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 10 trailers), 963 cartons of frozen poultry products, 431 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 163 bales of used clothing, 569 pieces of used tyres, 69 bags of sugar, four containers, among others.
The Indian hemp seized along Olorunda axis of Ogun state was in 570 parcels and 98 sacks of (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 1,550kg.
He also disclosed that the 2,671 bags of 50kg rice seized from smugglers were hidden in 9 hired truck from 9 makeshift storage houses in Ilogbo, Abeokuta.
For the Indian hemp, he said they were intercepted based on credible intelligence and resistance, adding that there was mob attack against customs operatives.
The Unit also detained 13 more vehicles include, including 1 Toyota Land cruiser (2018), 1 Escalades Cardilac (2017), 1 Range Rover (2014), 3 Toyota Camry (2009,2010 and 2017 models), 1 Toyota Rav 4, 1 Toyota Highlander (2014), 1 Honda CRV, 1 Honda Accord, 1 BMW Salon, 1 Toyota Sienna, 1 Hyundai, among others.
Uba remarked, “The vehicles are still under detention pending the grace period allowed for the owners to bring relevant customs document. The interception was done while on information patrol at various locations within our areas of jurisdiction. These 13 detained exotic Vehicles alone have a duty paid value of N258,137,766.98) only”.
He equally told newsmen that importers of 64 exotic cars who failed to come along with documents to prove that they paid duties on the cars have lost them to the federal government.
He said, “It will interest you to know that among the detained vehicles in our previous briefing, 64 of them have been converted to seizure after all necessary legal procedures were followed within the week under review, awaiting Court condemnation”.
The Unit also seized four containers 3x40ft and 1x20ft for different Customs breaches in the importation process.
“The 1x20ft container no: CSNU 106087/4 carried 2,260 cartoons of Gonca Spagetti made in turkey and 530 package of Rifle Energy drinks made in Europe as against baking powder declared in the SGD. Further investigation revealed that the container was never exited, we are still investigating and all those found culpable will face the full wrath of the law. While 1x40ft container number: PCIU 865957/1was seized for carrying 200 cartons of ladies shoes,134 cartons of children among other items as against keyboard and mouse declared in the SGD, 1x40ft container number: FCIU 80992/0 was seized for carrying 2300 cartons of tiffany chocolate,385 cartons of tiffany crunch n cream biscuit as against “Tapet for fuel pump complete”. These are clear cases of false declarations, liable to seizure and forfeiture”, Uba recounted.
The Controller sent a note of warning to all smugglers/intending ones and their accomplices to desist from such trade malpractices and invest their money in legitimate business.
He said that those who fail to change will continue to count their losses and risk going to jail.
He disclosed that 10 suspects were arrested in connection with the 86 seizures.
Uba handed over the seized Indian hemp to an official of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) , Mr. Lawal Opaleye who promised to ensure that the culprits were brought to justice.
Opaleye while commending the Customs for the efforts so far said the two agencies will continue to collaborate to stop criminals from bringing in dangerous drugs into the country.
NB: Additional reports from Shipping Day