The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, Owerri has impounded 17 prohibited items and 21 underpayments recovered worth over N194 million in January.
The FOU, Zone C which comprises Delta, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Imo with headquarters in Owerri stated that the seizure was a demonstration of its determination to stem out the tide of smuggling of contraband goods into the country.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Assistant Superintendent of Customs Onuigbo, Ifeoma Ojekwu in a statement said the amount was a combination of an overall duty paid value (DPV) of N122.2 and a recovered underpayment of N72.3 million.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC), FOU, Zone A, Comptroller Uba Garba Mohammed showcased the seized items at the premises of the Customs Warehouse, Enugu.
Mohammed also revealed that 18 suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures which took place along Owerri, Benin, Enugu and Calabar axis.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, the CAC said that while 9 vehicles worth N35, 900, 920 were involved, 382 pieces of foreign smuggled used tyres valued at N6, 288, 000 and 3,077 bags of 50kg foreign rice estimated at N80,093,300 were equally confiscated by his officers and men.
Expatiating on the dangers and the implications of the usage and consumption of the items in question by unsuspecting members of the public, the CAC said that rice smuggling has the capacity to depress the nation’s economy because according to him, it reduces government’s revenue, stifles domestic rice industries in addition to distorting supply and consumption data usually applied by the government as references for sound policy planning.
Mohammed also justified government ban on used tyres stressing that such items from the more advance nations of the world are compressed and discarded for use in their countries of manufacture, but later find their way into the country as a result of the activities of the smugglers who in turn sell them to members of the public because of their perceived cheap prices.
He warned those who are still trapped in the illicit business of smuggling despite the obvious implications to purge themselves of these obnoxious businesses which is detrimental to the nation’s economy, their own lives and the society at large.
He noted that the unbridled use of imported second hand tyres has continued to wreak havoc on the nation’s highway with many lives being lost and others seriously injured.
He enjoined member of the public with unquenchable appetite, interest and desire for foreign prohibited materials to quickly purge themselves of this in their own interest, regretting that many families have been ruined as a result of this.
The Customs Chief made it clear that the NCS would ever remain steadfast and sincere in its resolution to ensure that no prohibited item gets across the nation’s borders, assuring that the service is now more than ever fortified, trained, mobilized and motivated to meet its challenges.
He appealed to members of the public with classified information about smugglers, their collaborators and agents to always make such information available to his officers and men for necessary action.
He made it clear that the NCS is not interested in witch-hunting or to victimizing anybody, group or association who are into legitimate business of importing and exporting but would not entertain any sacred cow involved in any foul play in the import and export business.