Contraband goods worth an unprecedented N1.3billion were intercepted by the Ogun State Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in 2013. The seized goods included second-hand vehicles, electronics, rice, vegetable oil, frozen foods among others.
Official documents made available by the command showed that in the period under review, 1,368 seizures with a duty paid value of N1.3 billion were made as against 1,084 seizures valued at N694 million in 2012 which represents a difference of N619 million.
Comptroller of the Ogun State Customs Command, Comptroller Haruna Mamudu, said that the command generated N5.5 billion in December 2013 as against N5.3 billion in December 2012.
Mamudu, who decried the increasing level of smuggling in the country, disclosed that the Ogun State Command alone seized 9,871 bags of rice between December 2013 and January, 2014 worth N59.2 million and 5,431 cartons of poultry worth N21.7 million within the same period.
He warned importers of rice to desist from doing so through the border routes, explaining that rice is not on the prohibited list but could only be imported into the country through the seaports, just as he said, “buying rice is not prohibited, it is allowed but must go through the port where you’ll have to pay your tax to government. You are not paying the duty to Customs’ pocket but government.”
In his words: “Rice is not banned but rice is banned when it comes into the country through unapproved routes. The border stations are unapproved routes for rice but you can make other importations. It is a federal government policy; it is not Customs policy. We are only here to enforce the law, but these are the enemies of the law.”
He disclosed that over 1,000 motorcycles used to smuggle the products into the country were also seized by his officers.
“You can see some of the motorcycles carrying four bags and some five bags of rice. So you can imagine these motorcycles in hundreds going across the border and carrying these quantities of bags of rice on motorcycles. By the time they make two or three trips, they would have carried about three trailer loads of rice.
“What we do is to find a way of blocking them in their quantities because they move in a convoy and in a high speed. So, we tried at our own level also to minimize the number of casualties. And they are not in the bush, these things happened in the communities and that is why most of the time they abandoned their motorcycles and ran into the houses or inside the villages,” Mamudu stated.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.