By Shulammite ‘Foyeku
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Seme Area Command, said it seized goods worth N2.84 billion and collected N1.95 billion as revenue between September and November 2018.
Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Muhammed Uba, disclosed this when he displayed some of the seized items before journalists in Seme on Wednesday.
Uba also said that the newly commissioned Seme-Krake joint border post between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin will help address the age long attitude of border community dwellers who view smuggling as a legitimate trade. He said the mind set of border community dwellers towards smuggling remains the biggest singular challenge faced by customs in curtailing such illegal businesses.
According to the Controller, some of the items seized include 21 vehicles, worth N134.4 million; 16,729 bags of rice worth N302.48 million; frozen poultry products worth N728,654 and vegetable oil worth N400,440. Others were used tyres worth N859,345, petroleum products worth N134.41 million; Tramadol worth N11.10 million; sugar worth N7.39 million; used textiles worth N774,270,57; and coconut worth N2.31 million, among others.
On the Seme-Krake joint border post recently commissioned by President Muhammdu Buhari and his Republic of Benin counterpart, Uba said, “The joint border post will help them (Republic of Benin) talk to their people what Nigeria government allows and what it does not. In the same vein, when we work with them, they will also tell us what they allow and what they don’t. That will go along way in sensitizing the people of the two countries to reduce these illegal trades.”
On the seizures made by the command so far this year, he said, “Beyond the statistics, it is obvious that the seizures represent protection of the economy and security of our people. Let me state clearly that it is simply not enough to inform you about the revenue and seizures what is of paramount importance is to boost our economic growth and provide employment for our teeming youths.
“Take for instance, the government policy on rice; the rationale behind the policy is geared towards self-sufficiency in terms of food production that would meet the demand of the citizenry. Incentives have been created for rice farmers, individuals and state governments have committed so much in terms of finance in order for this goal of self-sufficiency to be actualized.
“We as a command cannot afford to be complacent. The dangers inherent in this illegality are too numerous to mention, hence our resolve to fight them relentlessly.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we are not out to frustrate members of the public or indeed the business community, our major interest is to facilitate legitimate trade.
“All those who are compliant, have nothing to fear. We remain determined to detect, arrest and prosecute those who do not comply with the extant laws regarding importation and exportation through the land borders.”
He said seven suspects arrested in connection with the seizures are facing further investigations and conviction.