As the Customs High Command step up efforts to curtail smuggling across the country, smugglers have continued to devise more methods and tactics to evade prying eyes of security operatives.
Besides the use of government vehicles, including refuse disposal trucks, some smugglers have not relented in their quest to indulge in the importation of items in the import prohibition list, concealment, and the non-payment of customs duty.
Already, men and officers of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Seme Border Command, have intercepted a sport utility vehicle (SUV), with a fake royal plate number at Seme-Krake border in Lagos.
The vehicle was impounded at the Seme-Krake border as one of the suspects was attempting to smuggle it into Nigeria from Benin Republic.
In an attempt to evade customs charges and deceive customs officials that the vehicle belonged to a Nigerian royal father, the smuggler faked its plate number to read: “Oba Ponbayi, Onisanlu of Isanlu Kingdom”.
Customs Area Controller (CAC), NCS, Seme Border Command, Comptroller Sadiq Sahabi disclosed this in a chat with journalists at the command headquarters.
His words: “Their fictitious kingdom doesn’t exist anywhere in Nigeria. Oba Ponbayi does not exist also. It is just a combination of names from different parts of Nigeria. The suspects fled into the bush as the officials closed in on them. The vehicle was among 36 others impounded this year by the customs at Seme-Krake border”.
He disclosed that officials of the command also seized fake and expired Artesunat, a popular drug used to treat malaria.
Displaying the seized items to journalists, Sahabi said: “They are expired and do not even have NAFDAC number on them. Those who drink beer should also be very careful. The command made 92 seizures with a duty paid value (DPV), of N46,321,992 between 1 January and 13 June”.
Sadiq said that during the period under review, his command collected N3,319,490,578 in contrast to the sum of N2,759,359,775.20 collected during the same period last year.
“Though this signifies an increase in revenue collection however, we are not satisfied as we are working assiduously to meet our half year revenue target of N4.2 billion. It is worthy to note that this command’s highest monthly revenue collection in recent history was collected in the month of May 2012. This command collected the sum of N997,585,453.37 in the said month and our zeal to collect much more remains unquenchable,” Sadiq said.
He said, during the period, trucks compliant with ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) goods with a CIF (Cost Insurance and Freight) value of N4,177,118,680.01 were cleared in the command.
But because of waivers and some Federal Government’s privileges granted to some countries, companies or organisations, the command lost N1,176,786,072.41 while the one per cent CISS (Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme) revenue amounted to N37,554,018.00.
“The revenue loss is the money we should have collected but did not. It is not embezzlement as some people have said, it is a government policy to maintain good rapport with our neighbouring countries or in forms of waivers and so on,” Sadiq said.
He explained that due to the Federal Government policies aimed at boosting the export of made in Nigeria goods and foreign exchange earnings the export section has not been generating revenue.
Said he: “Our export section facilitated the export of made in Nigeria goods within a Free On Board (FOB) value of N3,567,538,393,61. The NESS (Nigerian Export Supervising Scheme) collection for the period amounted to N17,786.120.34”.