As the countdown to the Yuletide period begins, the Customs High Command has issued a stern warning to importers and exporters, especially smugglers, to keep away from the nation’s international borders.
The warning is coming on the heels of the arrest of a couple at Seme Border for allegedly bringing in cannabis (marijuana) valued at N3.2 million from the Republic of Benin.
The Yuletide season is associated with activities occasioned by the importation of sundry items by importers who take advantage of the huge sales that goes with the period.
Apart from Muslim festivals, Christmas also take place in the last quarter of the year and many importers often bring in many consignments ahead of the period. They do this to take advantage of the penchant for Nigerians to buy things ahead the festivities. This often gives room for sharp practices such as under-declarations and concealments as many importers in collusion with their agents want to make brisk business.
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Customs Area Controller (CAC), Seme Border Command, Comptroller Othman Salleh, who stated this in a release, warned smugglers to stay clear of the border post.
The statement, signed by the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Seme Border Command, Mr. Ernest Ollotah, quoted Salleh giving the warning at Seme, near Badagry.
His words: “Any smuggler hoping to use Seme Border Post to perpetrate illegal trade should have a rethink. During my tenure as the controller of the command, there will be no hiding place for smugglers and their nefarious activities”.
Salleh, who recently took over the leadership of the command from Alhaji Sadiq Sahabi as its CAC, planned to hold what he called an “enlightenment and awareness campaign” with all traders on the need for legal businesses at the border.
“First and foremost, I will carry out enlightenment and awareness campaign among traders at Seme border to sensitise them on the need to transact legal business,” he said.
He urged traders not to evade customs duty, saying that the proceeds from the duties were being used for infrastructure development of the nation. He also called for the cooperation of other security agencies at the border post to ensure effective security of the country.
The cannabis was concealed in 30 packs in the vehicle used by the couple. Handing the suspects, exhibits and a Kia Sephia car with Lagos registration number KSF160AG to operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Saleh said men and officers of the command were able to detect the banned substance concealed in the bonnet and beneath the rear seat of the car where the driver’s wife and a baby were seated, through intelligence and uncompromising enforcement.
Othman said the car used to convey the cannabis was intercepted at Gbaji checkpoint where the concealed blocks of compressed weeds were discovered. He added that the arrest and seizure underlined his resolve to strengthen the existing inter service tie between the Customs at the border and other government agencies like NDLEA.
On resumption, he had visited sister agencies and assured them of increasing customs co-operation in preventing government revenue loss and importation or exportation of any item or commodity in the import and export prohibition list.
He warned persons involved in any form of illegality against the Nigerian state at the border to desist from doing so, as all government security agencies operating under his chairmanship at the joint security meeting are sustaining the existing intelligence and information sharing strategy to win the war against smuggling and other unlawful acts.