‘Customs linking seized cargoes with faces’

The days of the Nigeria Customs Service making seizures of smuggled or prohibited goods without arresting the suspected importers may be over, as the Service now indulge intelligent investigations to find importers of seized cargoes.
A senior Customs official at the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ Ikeja said every unit of the service now have an intelligence unit which work to obtain information on importers of prohibited and smuggled goods for prosecution and further punishment.
The Customs source said in its bid to block supply chain of smuggled goods, the Customs now work further to trace importers of banned and smuggled goods.
“This time around we don’t just seize consignments. We go further to trace those who are connected with it because our major concern is to block the supply chain. We trace the source, even though investigation can take time sometimes and once we are done with investigation, we get legal advisers to prosecute, said the official who did not want his name in print as he is not in a position to speak with the media.
“We have our intelligence unit which works to obtain intelligence information and authenticate such information. Once we are sure that the information at our disposal is authentic, we use them and that is why we are making this clarion call every now and then that this task of suppressing smuggling is not for Customs alone. It is a joint collaboration. “We call on patriotic Nigerians to give information to the Customs. Once we have information about where these Customs goods are stored, we go there and make seizures,” the source said.
The Customs anti-smuggling unit late last year intercepted and seized a 40ft container fully loaded with two-stroke generators, commonly known in local parlance as “I better pass my neighbour.”
The official said the banned two-stroke generators are smuggled into the country, adding that smuggling is like scavenging and is a global phenomenon.
“There is no country in the world that can claim to have completely eliminated smuggling in their domain and climes and Nigeria is not an exception. The fact that you still see the banned things in the market does not mean that Customs is not on top of its statutory functions.
“We actually have very huge volume of these seizures at the government warehouse in Ikeja. Our houses are almost filled to the brim and that is clear evidence that Customs is of its statutory mandate. Particularly now with the change ideology and mantra of the new CG, Col Hameed Ali (rtd). We are actually on top of our statutory mandate. What we are doing is to suppress, as no country can completely eliminate smuggling,” the official explained.