The Federal Operating Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service has warned smugglers to desist from the illegal business, especially as the nation is approaching end of the year, when business activities boom.Area Comptroller of the Unit, Comptroller Uba Mohammed, said this on Monday when displaying some of the goods that were seized by the unit to newsmen in Lagos.Speaking at the press conference, Comptroller Uba Mohammed said that the unit is well-equipped to fight smuggling, even as he revealed that it seized assorted items with Duty Paid Value of about N783.6Million in three weeks.He added that the goods were seized between August 9 and 25, 2017, after the unit intensified its operational modalities.Giving a breakdown, he said that 27 out of the seizures were vehicles with DPV of about N228.2Million.“The smuggled vehicle include: Toyota Prado Jeep, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Highlander, Mercedes Benz, amongst others ranging from 2007 to 2013 models respectively. These 27 assorted vehicles alone have a DPV of N228, 215, 429, 10’’. ‘’And these vehicles are coming through unapproved routes, the federal government has banned the importation of rice and used vehicles through land borders and the policy still remains and we will continue to ensure that the policies are implemented”, he assured.Speaking further he said that the unit intercepted other contraband and also arrested 16 suspects in connection with the seizures."Similarly, our re-invigorated anti-smuggling operations yielded positive gains through interception of other contraband comprising foreign parboiled rice, frozen poultry products, Indian hemp, medicaments, used tyres and various general merchandise. Three containers were also seized for false declaration with DPV of N303,260,671,85. He added that a total of 16 suspects have also been arrested in connection to the seizures".He also said that the unit recovered N252,173,201,25 from duty payments and demands notices on general goods that tried to outsmart officers.The Customs Unit boss also encouraged legitimate traders to go about their normal business with no fear.“I want to warn illegitimate traders that we have put additional measures in place to make sure that such illegal activities are blocked while to those who are doing genuine business, we are trade facilitators and we are ready at any point in time to assist people doing genuine business to ensure that each Nigerian citizen has something genuine to do’’. “For people, who aid smugglers, I also want to sound a note of warning or advice, they may not know but we are now out for them as the year is coming to an end. Section 77 of the customs law states that anybody who aids smuggling by way of
sending text message or signal, even if the message did not deliver, is a crime and the person is going to be jailed for a period of two years’’, he stressed.The unit also seized Indian hemp and medicaments, which were handed over to the Nationl Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).Speaking after the receiving the seized Indian hemp and medicaments, the Deputy Director Monitoring, NAFDAC, Mr. Francis Onaniwu, applauded the Nigeria Customs for the efforts infighting banned goods especially medicaments to standstill.“Sometimes last months, we received something like this from the customs and they have been destroyed. So we are enjoying good collaboration with the customs. They are very strong and powerful ally to NAFDAC in the fight against counterfeit and fake drugs coming into our country. Some of them have NAFDAC number so we are going to investigate and see if the numbers are genuine. We want to thank Customs for this collaboration” he concluded.In the same vein, the representative of NDLEA, Mr Lawal Opeleyeru, thanked the Nigeria Customs Service for their tireless effort in collaborating with NDLEA.“I hereby take over the bags of dry weeds suspected to be cannabis sativa from the Nigerian Customs I want to use this opportunity to thank the Customs for their tireless effort in collaborating with NDLEA to ensure that Nigeria is free from illicit drugs. This seizure has done two good things, the first one sis that we have succeeded in removing this quantity from circulation and many youths have been denied access to these drugs.Secondly when you seizure these kind of thing, you have reduced crime in the society. We need to sensitize the people to shun this because once the buyers do not see it again, they will stop taking it”, he concluded.