Customs FOU A uncovers plans to smuggle 600 vehicles from Benin Republic
• Records N501.4m seizures, N103.6 revenue in one month
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, said it has busted and arrested a two-man syndicate that forges customs clearing documents used to smuggle goods into the country.
The Acting Controller of the unit, Hussein Ejibunu, while disclosing this to journalists, yesterday, in Lagos, said the arrest of one suspect, named Shuaibu Kolo, with a 2007 Mercedes Benz along Ajilete-Idiroko road of Ogun State and in-depth investigation, led to the unraveling of over 600 pictures of vehicles domiciled in Benin Republic waiting to undergo forged clearing process by the same criminal syndicate.
Ejibunu said items recovered from the suspects in the course of arrest and investigation are fake customs valuation stamp, fake customs duty chart book on vehicles, fake customs documents and vehicle registration documents, four computer monitors, three computer processing units, one keyboard and one printer.
Ejibunu also disclosed that the unit recorded seizures of smuggled items worth N501.4 million in the Southwest region of the country in February 2023.
According to him, the items, which were seized for non-compliance with the extant Customs laws are, 5,328 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, which is equivalent to nine trailer loads, 1 x 40ft container said to contain 512 cartons of generators (on detention for false declaration), 1 x 40ft container said to contain 2,298 cartons of half gasoline engines (on detention for false declaration).
Others are 29,875 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS), 283 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products, 75 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa, five units of foreign-used vehicles and 1 x 40ft container said to contain charcoal meant for export.
He said 18 suspects were arrested in connection with some of these offences and are at different stages of investigation and prosecution. He said in the unit’s quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under-payments and wrong classification, it collected N103.6 million following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters.
Ejibunu said the effects of smuggling these items have a very significant negative impact on the economy, which include loss of revenue, distortion of market prices and collapse of local industries.
“Smuggling is an illegal and willful means of conducting business. It has an extensive menace on the economy that has continued to impact on activities of locally manufactured goods. It also encourages acts of criminality in society.
“Sadly, in our resolve to safeguard the national economy and prevent revenue loss, officers on legitimate duties are ambushed and attacked by suspected smugglers and their sympathisers; using guns, machetes, charms and other dangerous items.
“The most recent incident of these kinds of assaults on officers is the one arrested using charms to attack personnel at Owoyele Igbogila road of Ogun State. While I discourage and call for their repentance, any act of recalcitrance would call for the full wrath of the law on any one found culpable,” he stated.