... CG Blasts Clearing Agents For Alleged Falsification Of Documents
In furtherance of enforcement of the ban placed on importation of vehicles and rice through land borders, the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ of Nigeria Customs Service and the Comptroller General of Customs Compliance Team have arrested 37 assorted vehicles and 12, 000 bags of rice smuggled into the country through unapproved routes.Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) who displayed the seized items to journalists at the FOU Zone ‘A’ in Ikeja Lagos yesterday gave the Duty Paid Value of the vehicles at N1, 374, 122, 679. 00, while the bags of rice were valued at N149, 007, 658.The seized vehicles include: 8 Lexus SUV LX 570, 2017 model, 12 Land Cruiser SUV 2017 model, 17 Toyota Hilux of 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 models respectively.Apart from the vehicles and the rice, Ali said that the anti-smuggling prowess of the customs yielded another 156 assorted seizures including bales of used clothing, Indian hemp and used tyres.The Customs boss expressed worry that Nigeria is the only dumping ground for used items such as clothing, tyres, and vehicles among others. He said that some of the seized containers originated from China through the seaport and were intercepted for false declaration, while the vehicles emanated from the borders. He lamented that customs officers were conniving with unscrupulous customs officers to cheat the federal government out of accruable revenue.Ali however lampooned clearing agents whom he said are usually falsifying customs documents, without knowledge of the importer in order to cheat government of accruable revenue.Blaming involvement of clearing agents, he said "I have seen so many importers cheated, they would be given the correct duty, when they give the money, our own clearing agents would go and change the paper and give it another name and another consignment in connivance with our own officers".The Customs boss assured that the Federal Government policies banning the importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders are still in force and that Nigeria Customs Service remains resolute in its determination to enforce these policies. "Nigeria Customs will continue to work towards crippling smugglers and getting them out of the illegitimate business""The vehicles certainly did not come from the port, they came through the borders and that is why you see all these dusts on them. The smugglers are working in connivance with our officers""We have 4, 70 kilometres of land at the borders, there is no way we can line up customs officers from the beginning to the end to cover it, so the smugglers take unapproved routes to bring in the vehicles""They know they would pass through dusty roads, so they paint the vehicles with oil, but as soon as they come, they would wash up the engine oil and you would see a brand new vehicle""They have already perfected a way of bringing in these things and that is why we are saying that we need all information. A patriotic Nigerian gave us the information we needed and this was how we ate able to intercept the vehicles" he saidAli said that the vehicles are absolute and outright seizures, even as he vowed that customs would go after the importers and prosecute them.He also said that some customs officers are being investigated and would be summarily punished for their involvement and connivance with smugglers.He said that customs would not hesitate to use force on smugglers in discharging their duties. He noted that officers have been given the order to use their firearms if need be in order to defend themselves against smugglers.He acknowledged the role played by the Nigerian Army whom he said has assisted customs tremendously in the anti-smuggling operations.