The Police said it has uncovered new antics by fraudsters who have been able to gain access to the software of the Nigeria Customs Service and some unsuspecting importers to ship cars into Nigeria, and subsequently evade duty payment.
Assistant inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Maritime Command; Akali Baba Usman, said , working with the International Police(INTERPOL), the Police have been able uncover about 160 vehicles that would have been smuggled into the country without payment of statutory duty to Government.
According to him, a total of 160 vehicles have been imported into the country through that means by fraudsters who hack into importers’ licenses and used it to import goods.
Speaking last week when he paid a visit to the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos, the AIG said that apart from the 160 vehicles, the Police was also able to trace and recovered a Golf car that was stolen from Germany and imported into Nigeria. He said that the Police got an INTERPOL alert that a stolen Golf car from Germany was coming into Nigeria.
He also revealed that the case is already in court so that the customs will release the license back to the owner, even as he added that the agents that cleared the car failed to disclose the identity of the importer.
Being specific, he said, “let me say the one I have witnessed, I saw cases under investigation of hacking of someone’s licenses and a total of over 160 vehicles have been imported by those that hacked the license. When the information came, investigation started and the investigation officers were only able to trace about three or four person that cleared the vehicles, they were able to trace the vehicles and trace those that cleared the vehicles”.
It is the duty and responsibility of those who cleared the vehicles to say who has the vehicles, but when we asked them they said they could not trace those who gave them the job to do. It is as good as they are the one and in this case the license of the complainant has already been stopped by Customs. So we decided to see how we can help the importer to get his license by charging these agents to court”, he added.
“Another case is that we had to stop container because we heard information that stolen vehicles are being imported into the country and we heard INTERPOL alert. Based on that alert, we focused our attention on containers that carry vehicles and we sometimes have to look into documents to know if they person is carrying vehicle”.
He said the Police eventually found the stolen vehicles in one of the containers that were searched. “We stopped the container, we subjected it to searching and we had vehicles inside, among them we had one that according to the INTERPOL was stolen in Germany, a Golf car. We have been able to trace it and the case is right now in court”, he disclosed.
The Police AIG maintained that the Police will continue to stop containers, even when they have already been cleared by the Customs at the ports, adding that its part of the duties and responsibilities of the Nigerian Police.
“Someone asked me a question, AIG why do your people stop containers. My people stop containers for the following reasons and they will continue to stop containers, the issue is if you have any issue with the stoppage, then let me know. Why do you ask why my people stop container, do containers have diplomatic immunity? The real issue is this, we have reasons and it is part of our duties and responsibilities”.