Stories Eguomo Odjegba
THE Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, Zone C, Owerri, made 192 seizures with a total Duty Paid Value of over N2billion in the first half of this year, H1’19.
According to the Unit Controller, Comptroller Kayode Olousemire, most of the seized items are customized exotic cars, which did not have the required end-user certificates, EUC.
This is in addition to making a recovery of N49million through Customs duty underpayment. Olusemire said the seized items include 500 posh cars, 13,000 bags of foreign rice, over 200 bales of used clothing, used shoes and used bags, 609 pieces of used tyres, 580 cartons of medicament including codeine, tramadol and piroxicam. He said some of the rice was concealed in silos and water tanks, noting, however, that his officers and men will always remain a step ahead of unscrupulous elements.
He said: “We have various seizures from rice to cars. As smugglers move a step we move two steps ahead of them. As they plan, we also strategize using intelligence and ingenuity to catch up with them. We have been decimating their means of livelihood.
“We have advocated several times that people should stop the smuggling of rice. Nigeria is where we can plant rice. There is no land in this country that is not arable enough to grow rice. There are so many fiscal policies supporting the Agric industry. We have the Anchor Borrowers programme that people can get a loan. But most of these deviants, enemies of the country will prefer to take the little foreign exchange we have out of the country to bring in rice. The rice smugglers are counting their losses because we are ready and prepared.
“The government policy is that cars should be brought in through the ports. Bringing in cars through the land border is prohibited. Look at the Ford Edge, Toyota Hilux 2019 model, Bentley, Mercedes Brabus G Wagon. Whoever that can afford to buy these cars should be able to pay duty on them.
“The idea of saying I bought it from a car lot is unacceptable. If you want to buy a car in Nigeria try and reach out to any customs formation. We have help desks where you can confirm the status of the car, all you need is the chassis number of the car. With that you will know if duty was paid on the car or if it was smuggled,” he explained.
“The importation of armoured cars is controlled. It should have an end-user certificate so that they do not get into the wrong hands. The end-user certificate is obtained from the office of the national security adviser,” he added.