The anti-smuggling unit of Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) in charge of Zone ‘C’, Owerri has seized various contrabands to the tune of N351, 404,000 in duty paid value.
The seized items which was listed to includes 10,080 pieces of used tyres, 205 bales of second-hand clothing, used bags, rubber slippers and exotic cars amongst others were said to be seized along Benin-Shagamu road and along Oluku Ondo state road.
Addressing the media, the Area Controller in charge of the Unit, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode disclosed that the dedication and doggedness of his officers and men covering the axis led to the avalanche of seizures which has been on from March to date along the said route.
Comptroller Olusemire who lauded the operatives for thwarting the activities of smugglers in the area known for high smuggling activities into the South East and South-South zone, added that their hard work complements the efforts of officers at the port and neighbouring zones.
He hinted that the Unit is witnessing a gradual rise in smuggling of tyres and other commodities against rice as the war on rice smuggling has been yielding the desired results.
Disclosing how the unit came about the seizures, he said “We have a container from Lagos carrying these tyres. They were able to evade the eagle eye of officers on the road but when they entered our zone we picked it up. We have 7120 pieces of used tyres in the container. We have 205 bales of second-hand clothing. We have rubber slippers, you name it we have virtually all things. Look at the number of cars we have picked up.
“Smugglers have devised so many means to evade detection but it is already known to them that the service is ready and we are on their tail, anywhere they pass through we will catch up with them. If they beat detection at Idiroko, beat Seme, even beat detection from Apapa or Tincan we are there manning the flank for them and we will still pick them up”.
The Unit boss added that 2,960 pieces of used tyres were also seized in a separate bust, warning that the FRSC has attributed 44 percent of road traffic accidents to the use of second-hand tyres and urged motorists to listen to the advocacy and pleas of the government and buy new tyres for their vehicles.
Explaining further on the high-end cars seized in Benin axis, Olusemire said the smugglers of one of the cars tried to evade detection by using a police spy plate number which on inspection was found to be fake.
He however condemned the importation of second-hand clothes, bags, rubber slippers and other prohibited items saying that they were classified as absolute prohibitions by the federal government because such items endanger and negatively exploit the health and safety of our nation.
“We have over 5 brand new vehicles 2019 model. I wonder why someone will bring in 2019 vehicle and not pay duty on it. If you can afford to buy a 2019 brand new vehicle why can’t you endeavour to pay duty on them instead of smuggling it?
“Rubber slippers can be manufactured in Nigeria. If you go to Aba they are manufacturing rubber slippers and bags so why would someone go to China and bring in rubber slippers and used bags for ladies? We should discourage ourselves from these and learn the habit of using what we produce in Nigeria,
“When you get to the port pay your duty. When you are making your declaration declare what you are carrying, make sure you declare what you have. Open Form M for whatever you know you are bringing into the country. We should stop doing things that are inimical to our health and health of the country,” he quipped.
He called on smugglers not to contribute to the death of the economy and urged Nigerians to contribute to the growth of the economy by engaging in legitimate trade and business endeavours.
He however did not fail to declared warning against Nigerians trying to harass officers in the discharge of their legitimate duties.