15 January 2016, Lagos — The war against smugglers of contraband has yielded more results as the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has recorded 467 seizures worth N2.7 billion. Also, no fewer than 316 suspects have been arrested by the Zone C in connection with smuggling of contraband into Nigeria.
Besides Imo State capital, Owerri, which serves as its operational headquarters, Enugu, Abia, Delta and Edo States are also in Zone C.
The Customs Area Controller, CAC, Federal Operation Unit, FOU, Owerri, Imo State, Comptroller Victor David Dimka, who disclosed this in a statement said the breakthrough was in line with its responsibility of nipping all forms of smuggling activities both in the South-East and South-South zones of the federation in the bud.
According to him, the 467 seizures of illegally imported items have an overall Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N2.7 billion in year 2015.
The CAC revealed that while 316 suspects were arrested in connection with the smuggling while one suspect was successfully convicted in court. He added that not less than 23 cases are now in court for the same purpose of which no fewer than seven cases were won by NCS.
Dimka revealed that underpayment recovered for some items stood at N130 million. According to the Customs chief, an analysis of the seizures made within the year involved 343 vehicles; 378 bales of bags/suitcases with 466 pieces; 6,472 pieces of imported used tyres; 8,855 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products; and 2,758 bales of imported textile materials. Others were 10 cartons of foreign beverages/juice; 2,584 bags of 50kg imported rice; 6,747 pairs of foot wears; 45 cartons of electrical/electronic equipment; 108 cartons of foreign vegetable oil; 1,387 packages of foreign furniture with 126 pieces; and 412 cartons of foreign soaps and detergents.
He stated that 1,561 cartons of medicaments (fake drugs) along with 7,493 bales of second-hand clothing and 5,642 cartons of other contraband items were equally impounded by the unit during the year under review.
He explained that a comparative analysis of the seizures and duty recovered with that of 2014 shows a geometric growth in result of suppressing smuggling within the zone.
“The current seizure report with a DPV is 29 per cent and 50 per cent in increase respectively when compared to seizure report of year 2014 that recorded 363 seizures with DPV of N1, 805, 843, 064. This increase also featured in the current report on duty recovered through demand notice, DN, issued as the increase represented in percentage of 81 percent is above the sum of N72,762,029 recovered on 59 DN issued and recorded in year 2014,” he said.
While denouncing the upsurge of smuggling activities in the country despite stiff penalties for culprits arrested, the CAC warned those still involved in the illicit business to desist forthwith in their own interest.
He noted that the NCS has been fortified to deal with the nagging problem of smuggling being perpetrated by some unpatriotic individuals who are desperate to make quick money to the detriment of the nation’s economy.
According to him, NCS under the leadership of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) would continue to apply decency and professionalism in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities. Officers found guilty of official misconduct must be dealt with accordingly.
He, however, decried isolated cases of unwarranted media attack and blackmail against the NCS by some sections of the press and enjoined such institutions to always contact his office for verification of facts whenever necessary.
The CAC appealed to members of the public with useful information about smugglers, their agents, sponsors and collaborators, to contact law enforcement agencies for prompt action.
He stressed that such vital information would be handled with utmost confidentiality so as to protect the identity of the informants.
*John Iwori – Thisday