Iin it’s renewed anti smuggling operations in the South West area of the country, the Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force in Zone A has recorded seizures worth over N417m within three weeks.
Displaying the seizures to newsmen in Lagos, Coordinator of the team, Deputy Comptroller Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu described the seizures which resulted in the arrest of three suspects as outcome of a renewed vigour by members of his team.
Shuaibu said his team relies on intelligence and due diligence by the operations and ICT arms of the Strike Force to curb smuggling and prevent revenue leakages through concealments, under declaration and false declarations.
He said “Consequent upon a renewed vigor to curtail the activities of smugglers, careful documentary checks and physical examinations were conducted during interceptions , the following among others were found to have contravened Section 46, sub sections b,c,e and f of the Customs and Excise Management Act, CAP C45 LFN of 2004. 1,185 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 2,147 cartons of cosmetics; 1,320 bales of textile materials; 1,956 cartons of new shoes and vehicles of different kinds with a duty paid value of N417,228,247.
Three suspects were arrested in connection with the goods seized for various offences from different locations within the South West Zone”
Shuaibu disclosed that apart from the seizures displayed at the Customs training college in Ikeja, more are being kept in other customs warehouses in Ikorodu and other parts of the South West.
He added that intense patrols resulted in seizing smuggled second hand clothing stored in a private warehouse with 13 containers seized within a period of three weeks over what he described as dubious declarations.
The three suspects arrested, according to him, have been granted administrative bail while aggressive stakeholders sensitisation has commenced to discourage youths from smuggling and other forms of lawlessness.
On the mode of conveyance which in most cases were not found to be complicit in the smuggling act, Shuaibu said vehicles used in transporting such goods and compliant cargoes are separated and released to their owners.
According to him, the Nigeria Customs Service is not out to create poverty and will not deprive owners of duly imported cargoes band compliant declarant to suffer same fate with smugglers .
He further described the NCS is a critical agency of government in the drive to increase non oil revenue, protect local industries and facilitate legitimate businesses while assuring that persons who make sincere declarations have nothing to worry about.
Justifying the reason for multiple outfits within the customs to check smuggling and revenue leakages, Shuaibu said the system created four layers of checks to ensure criminals don’t escape.
He described the Federal Operations Unit, Strike Force, Customs Police and Border Drill as bodies that supports themselves in the fight against smuggling.
The coordinator who admitted possibility of one of the units not detecting concealments posited that other layers of checks put in place by customs management will make detection possible.