In a bid to stem the tide of smuggling contraband goods into the country, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, Owerri of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 17 prohibited items with 21 underpayments recovery of N194.6million in January. 2017. The Unit swiftly arrested 18 suspects in connection with the seized items.
The Public Relations officer of the Unit, Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Onuigbo, Ifeoma Ojekwu , disclosed this in a chat with Sunday Vanguard, explaining that the above figure is a combination of overall Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N122.2million and a recovery underpayment of N72.3million.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC) in charge of the Unit, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba said that the seizures were made along Owerri, Benin, Enugu and Calabar axis. He said, “We intercepted 9 vehicles worth N35,900,920.00; 382 used tyres valued at N6,288,000.00 and 3,077 bags of 50kg foreign rice estimated at N80,093,300.00. Rice smuggling has the capacity to depress the nation’s economy, as it reduces government’s revenue, stifles domestic rice industries in addition to distorting supply and consumption data usually applied by the government as references for sound policy making and planning”.
Garba justified government ban on used tyres, stressing that such items in advanced nations are usually compressed and discarded for use in their countries of manufacturing, but later find their way into the country as a result of the activities of smugglers who in turn sell them to members of the public because of their perceived cheap prices.
He therefore warned those who are still trapped in illicit business of smuggling despite the obvious implications to purge themselves of this obnoxious business, which is detrimental to the nation’s economy. He noted that the unbridled use of imported second-hand tyres continues to wreck havoc on the nation’s highway with many lives being lost and others seriously injured.
He added, “NCS would remain steadfast in its resolve to ensure that no prohibited item gets across the nation’s borders, assuring that the Service is now more than ever fortified, trained and mobilised to meet its challenges.
I appeal to Nigerians with classified information about smugglers, their collaborators and agents to always make such information available to our officers and men for necessary action. NCS is not interested in witch-hunting or victimising anybody, group or association who are into legitimate business of importing and exporting, but would not entertain economic sabotage through illegal business of any kind.”