Some of the exotic SUVs that were seized by Customs at Seme border
The Nigeria Customs Service said that it has entered into partnership with the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) to apprehend smugglers of Tokunbo (Second hand) vehicles who have now devised a new means of using registered plate numbers on smuggled vehicles in order to escape the customs.
Speaking with journalists last week, the Customs Area Controller, Seme Border Command of customs, Compt. Mohammed Uba said that the command in the last two months seized 45 vehicles out of which 19 were exotic tokunbo cars. He said that plate numbers were attached to some of the vehicles even though they were being smuggled.
Compt Uba however assured that the partnership with the road safety officers has helped the command because the officers of the corps sometimes issue intelligence information to the customs, especially on the status of some vehicles passing through the borders.
According to the customs boss, the Nigeria customs through FRSC would now begin to arrest smugglers through investigation of the plate numbers they had attached to the vehicles they smuggle.
“You can see some of them were using plate numbers, but this is just to deceive the customs officers, but working closely with other security agencies including the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), when they have suspicion about any vehicle, they report to us, we work together by giving us information that goes a long way”
“In most cases, when the smugglers see the customs, they flee and left the vehicles. What we normally do is that since they have plate numbers, we take the numbers and give it to the FRSC to help us investigate so that on the long run the driver would be brought to book”, he said.
The Seme customs boss said that some of the 45 vehicles seized in two months were intercepted in the bushes, while some were gotten on the highway. He said nineteen of them were tokunbo vehicles while the others were means of conveyance for smuggled items.
“The 19 vehicles were seized out rightly; the other vehicles were means of conveyance. The government has banned the importation of vehicles through the land borders, so the moment we arrest any vehicle that comes through the borders, it is outright seizure because this is the directive of the government and we are implementing it to the letter”
“If you buy a vehicle of N10Million and you cannot pay a duty of N2Million to the government, the money is channeled for the development of the economy; the money doesn’t go to anybody. With this new customs, there is no direct contact, you go straight to the bank and pay, what we get is the acknowledgement”
“We have arrested five people in connection with the cars, some of them were released on administrative bail, and some of them are in court and others in detention”
“The payment of duty on vehicles from the land border has been banned, it is not allowed, if it was allowed we could have collected the duties”, he said.