Customs debunks arms importation claim

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has denounced claim by the Director General, National Task Force on Illegal Importation of Small Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons (NATFORCE) Osita Okereke that arms and ammunition were being imported through Seme Border.

NCS’ import coordinator at Seme command, Assistant Controller Ibrahim Turaki said the allegation could cause panic because of the insurgency in the north.

He urged Okereke to give details of the 10 trucks allegedly used to ship in the weapons, name the importer and state the consignment’s destination.

Turaki said NATFORCE should have informed the Department of State Services (DSS) or the police to impound the trucks before their escape.

The task force, he alleged, was operating illegal checkpoints and had been “extorting” N10,000 from truck owners.

He said: “We made efforts to flush them out of Seme border as they are an unregistered association; they are now making up stories to portray NCS in bad light.

“NCS has a responsibility which is explicit under the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) and that is to ensure the collection of duty payments and prevention of importation of prohibited goods including light arms and ammunition.

“Investigations showed that someone who we learnt is a notorious smuggler in Seme Command gave NATFORCE this unverified sensitive information and since the news broke out, the ‘informant’ has been on the run”, Turaki said.

According to him, the command is committed to stamping out smuggling and ensuring fair treatment of genuine importers and stakeholders.

Turaki warned unscrupulous elements to desist from their act or, urging them to cooperate with the command.

He said: “We have put in place laudable measures through the Comptroller-General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi and our amiable Customs Area Controller, Willy Egbudin. The move has ensured improved revenue generation and shown our zero tolerance for prohibited goods through the land border, making it safe for trade.” 

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