The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Lagos, intercepted contraband valued at N713.8 million in January and February 2017.
The Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Haruna Mamudu, said this in the performance report made available on Wednesday in Lagos by the Public Relations Officer, Mr Jerry Attah.
According to Mamudu, the unit through its interventions recovered N650.31 million from duty payments and Demand Notices on general goods that tried to beat the system in the guise of false declaration, transfer of value and underpayment of duty.
The controller commended Officers and Men of the unit for living up to their statutory responsibilities in suppression of smuggling, blocking all revenue leakages and enhancing trade facilitation toward sustaining best international standards.
Mamudu thanked the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, for his efforts in recognising hard work and diligence to duty without any compromise.
He said that in the months under review, 197 different seizures were recorded comprising foreign parboiled rice, frozen poultry products, vegetable oil, smuggled vehicles, Indian hemp, arms and ammunition, fake pharmaceutical/medicaments and various general merchandise.
“Notably, 23,000 bags of rice with a Duty Paid Value of N149.5 million were still under seal in an unnamed warehouse in Lagos awaiting relevant import document for further necessary action.
“Also, Demand Notices of over N100 million has been issued to two auto dealers/assemblers under Customs seal awaiting payment for infractions on their import transactions, while some are still undergoing court trials.
“Over 16 x 40ft containers under detention are on thorough investigation and appropriate Demand Notices would be raised and seizures effected where applicable,’’ Mamudu said.
“You will recall that the unit evacuated 1,870 bags of smuggled rice and 43 jerry cans of vegetable oil from the front of an unnamed warehouse in Sango Ota Motor park in Ogun State by our field operatives based on information,’’ he said.
Following the tactical operation and successful evacuation of the rice, which later led to protests and breakdown of law and order by some angry traders, the controller advised those who might have genuine importation document from the seaport to come forward for their claims rather than breaching the law.
He said that the unit’s action was in conformity with the law of the Federation of Nigeria as enshrined in Sections 147, 148, and 158 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 LFN 2004.
The controller said there were also monitoring and trailing of some smugglers, who passed through unapproved routes, using commercial motorcycles popularly known as ‘okada’ and smaller vehicles.
He appealed to all well-meaning Nigerians to see smuggling as a crime, evil and threat to national development and security.
Mamudu said that the war against these economic saboteurs “is a collective responsibility of every patriotic Nigerians’’.
He advised that all hands should be on deck in the fight against smuggling.