Controller, Ogun State Command of Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Sanni Madugu has said that only stiff penalties and prosecution will deter smugglers from their illicit activities.
Madugu who stated this while showcasing some new assorted vehicles and rice impounded by the command on Wednesday in Idiroko said smuggling as become a most lucrative business thus making it difficult for people to quit.
The Customs boss who reiterated ban on importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders said the command is on red alert as it intercepted new and used vehicles as well as foreign parboiled rice with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N79 million within four days.
He said three persons arrested by the command for engaging in smuggling in the State are also being prosecuted.
“Smuggling business is lucrative. Young men and women make good money from smuggling so they find it difficult leaving. Only seizures and prosecution can deter them and we have prosecuted three them.
“Within last three weeks, we have seized more than 20 vehicles. Last week we evacuated 10 vehicles from Owode, some are means of conveyance and there are Tokunbo including brand new ones.
“The importation of vehicles has been banned more than a year, we can’t continue using our own resources to build another country because they pay duty to Cotonou port but they don’t pay taxes to Nigeria government. We are on red alert we will continue to chase them, and seize their consignment,” he said.
Giving a breakdown of the seized items, the Controller said they include a 2017 brand new Toyota Hiace bus; Acura ZDX saloon; Lexus Jeep RX 350; Opel Omega Saloon; Opel austral Station wagon and 573 bags of foreign parboiled rice.
Others are Tokunbo Honda Pilot; 2 Toyota Highlanders; Toyota Sienna and brand new 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser.
“We intercepted a brand new Toyota Hiace bus known as Hummer at Abeokuta on Tuesday. We are at Idiroko to show what we have done within four days.
“We are succeeding. We are defeating the smugglers and winning them. In Idiroko axis we intercepted brand new Toyota Prado jeep 2017 like we did in Abeokuta. We have made couple of seizures as regards rice, we have over 600 bags of rice on ground and we are following them to the bushes. We are on the road and in the bus and anywhere they put their rice.
“We have discovered their hideout where they transit their rice, put in a small hut in the bush and put an elderly man who sits as if it is a house. We broke into the hut and evacuated over 250 bags of rice four days ago.
“The road is hot and we will continue to chase them and any plan they adopt we are ahead of them. We will continue to join them, we get support from the Army, the Police Commissioners and area Commanders is supporting us.
“The intelligence unit of Ogun command are helping us with intelligence. We will not keep quiet help us educate people against smuggling,” he said.