Customs FOU arrests 18 alleged smugglers, impounds 36 vehicles
THE Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), zone C Owerri, has arrested 18 alleged smugglers and impounded 36 vehicles.
According to the Area Controller of the unit, Dimka Victor David, the impounded vehicles are 13 cars, 14 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), five trucks and four buses.
He said the seizures were made in January, this year, adding that other items were 636 cartons of imported frozen poultry products, 800 bags of cement, 800 pieces of used types, 2155 cartons of foreign soap and creams.
Also seized within the period were 274 bales of second hand clothing and stockings as well as 17 pieces of Tarpaulin, 12 pieces of PVC rubber carpet and 51 bags of 50 kg foreign rice.
Giving a break down of the impounded items, Dimka commended members of the public who according to him have “courageously and patriotically” supplied the unit with relevant information bordering on smuggling.
He assured members of the public that classified information would never be divulged in line with the ethics of the profession.
“Explaining further, Dimka said: “We have been trained, oriented and conscientized under the management of the CGC to meet our challenges and it is left for those still entrapped in smuggling to desist forthwith or be prepared to face the consequences of their act if arrested.”
Dimka advised members of the public who wish to purchase vehicles to ensure that they go through the official channels and to always clear with the customs before investing their money, warning that all illegally imported goods must be impounded as ignorance of the Law is no excuse.
He said a total of thirty -seven (37) seizures were recorded within the period with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of one hundred and seventy-nine million, five hundred and twenty three thousand, six hundred Maura (N179,523,600), higher than N93 million recorded within same period in 2014.
The Area Controller attributed the increase to series of innovations put in place by the management of NCS under the leadership of the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Abdullahi Dikko inde, “which has in no small measure drastically reduce smuggling to the barest minimum.”
Dimka in a statement issued by CPRO FOU Zone C, Owerri, Onuigbo Ifeoma, also commended sister agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force, the State Security Services, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agencies and Media organizations for “their continued corporation in this fight against the nefarious act of smuggling”.
The zone had for the year ended December 2014, recorded 363 seizures of illegally imported items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.80 billion and recovered an under payment of N71.76 million.
Giving details of the 2014 performance, Dimka explained that the unit made 104 arrests in 2014 and had 134 cases pending in court with four conviction as against 31 arrests recorded in 2013 with 20 cases in court.
He explained that vehicles topped the list of seized items, totaling 237, with 209 seized as a result of fake documents, while 28 others were abandoned.
Dimka said the high number of seizures was recorded in April, September and December 2014, while high DPV were made in April and September.
He attributed the development to increased desperation of smugglers during the months, adding that there would be sustained and aggressive patrol operations to curtail activities of smugglers in 2015.
Dimka also appealed to Nigerians to volunteer relevant information to the unit, pointing out that identity of such informants would be treated with utmost confidentiality.
He assured genuine importers and their agents of continued support in line with its mandate to facilitate legitimate trade.
Dimka acknowledged what he described as the continued and invaluable support and encouragement of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, which has motivated and encourage them in the discharge of their anti-smuggling activities “which has culminated into harvest of seizures recorded in the year 2014”.
One of the high points of the unit activities in 2014 was the confiscation of a 399.5kg wraps of Indian hemp valued at N9 million.
Impounded on the in Enugu State, the prohibited product was concealed in a luxury Bus along with other passenger’s luggage to beat “the eagle eyes of the customs men on duty”.
Dimka said “However, acting on information made available to us, our men took strategic positions, intercepted the bus and eventually recovered the cannabis sativa alongside other contraband goods such as foreign rubber slippers, used motorcycle and used computers”.
Showcasing the drugs which he later handed over to officials of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Dimka warned that the entire Zone “C” of the Nigeria Customs Service has become a “no go area” for smugglers, their agents and collaborators, stressing that officers and men of the Service, are now better trained, motivated and equipped with the state of the art gadgets to deal decisively with die hard smugglers.
He added, “Despite efforts to reduce smuggling, smugglers have refused to listen to the voice of reason and it is quite unfortunate and disheartening that the deviants have continued in their nefarious trade”.