The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it impounded various contraband items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N572.1 million between January to March.
Public Relations Officer of the unit, Uche Ejesieme, said in a statement in Lagos that the Controller of the unit, Comptroller Umar Dahiru, made the disclosure while on an inspection tour of the warehouse.
He said the seized items include frozen poultry products, foreign parboiled rice, vehicles, vegetable oil, trucks of unprocessed teak woods and other general merchandise.
He gave the breakdown as: 4,911 bags of rice; 15,048 cartons of imported frozen products; 1,884 kegs of vegetable oil; 17 trucks of unprocessed teak woods; and an unspecified number of general merchandise.
Ejesieme quoted the Controller as saying that the latest onslaught came against the backdrop of the recent directive on the ban on rice importation through the land borders.
Dahiru said that importation of rice was only restricted for now to the seaports and warned rice importers to adhere strictly to the latest policy or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.
He pointed out that the seizures of the frozen poultry products were remarkable because of circumstances and mode of concealment.
He said “that most of the seizures of frozen products were carefully concealed with frozen fish ostensibly to divert the attention of the operatives. At other instances, cooling vans were used in concealing the products with the same criminal intent,”
The controller said that three brand new Toyota Prado jeeps were also intercepted during the period.
On trade facilitation, the controller said that the nation was a signatory to the ECOWAS treaty on trade liberalisation and could not afford to go contrary to the letter and spirit of the treaty.
“The Service is a compliant organisation and we are determined to deliver services in line with World Customs Organisation (WCO) standards, because we are key elements of the WCO,” Dahiru said.
He said that legitimate and compliant importers would always receive the support of the unit in line with the policy of trade facilitation; and urged those with dubious intention to “turn a new leaf”.
Dahiru mentioned some of challenges faced by the unit, particularly the ignorance of some rural dwellers who did not see anything wrong in smuggling.
The controller promised that the concept of Customs Community Relations (CCR) would be revived for the education and sensitisation of the populace, “particularly those dwelling in communities where smugglers operate”.
On the recent visit of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and some members of his management team to Zone ‘A’ recently, he stated that it was aimed at strengthening operational ties with the critical stakeholders as well as to brainstorm on areas of hiccups with a view to ensuring seamless collaborations that will enhance the revenue generation capacity of the Service.
He said, “The Comptroller-General of Customs and his Management are working tirelessly despite the present harsh economic challenges to re-position the Service for greater efficiency and functionality.
“In area of logistic support, I would like to appreciate the CGC and his management for providing necessary equipment which has enabled us to frontally deal with smuggling. Just recently we took delivery of new weapons – AK 47 rifles and ammunition to compliment the ones in our armoury. It has really gone a long way in giving us a comparative advantage against these economic terrorists.”
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