Endure Short-term Pains for Long-term Gains, Customs Boss Urges Nigerians

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Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.)
  • 99 containers worth N2.03bn seized in Port Harcourt

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.), has urged Nigerians to endure short-term pains to enjoy long-term gains from the partial closure of the nation’s land borders.

This is as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) announced the seizure of 99 containers valued at N2.03 billion from its two area commands in Port Harcourt.

Addressing journalists after an inspection of the seized items at the Customs Area II Command, Onne, Rivers State, Ali noted that many Nigerians were complaining of hardship arising from the border closure.

 He said many people had stated that the time was not ripe for the closure of the borders as government was yet to provide the necessary infrastructure to encourage local production of needed goods.

His words: “There will never be a good time. The decision of closing the border is ripe, we don’t need to have 100 per cent  electricity, good roads before we take the step.  Most importantly is that we must be able to bear the initial pains  in order to stabilise and have long  term successes.

“We don’t have to eat rice every day. There are other alternative food. I assure you that the price will stabilise and the ordinary farmers will have value for their farming business.”

The Customs boss also advised Nigerians to be wary of eating imported rice as most them currently in the market were expired and re-bagged, after polishing with chemicals.

“All those things they are bringing into our country are aimed at bringing us to our knees. We must reach out to Nigerians for them to know the deadly effect of what they are consuming.

“We are consuming expired foreign rice. When it causes cancer, we begin to find who to blame. What they (importers) do is that they polish and rebag the rice after polishing it with chemicals for unsuspecting consumers to eat.”

Ali also said there was need to dredge the nation’s ports to allow big ships access and to boost maritime revenue.

“The problem with some of our ports is that we don’t have a deep sea port. Most of the big ships when they come they discharge on the high sea because our ports are not deep and we have to use barges to go and evacuate them.

“It is a big challenge that none of the five ports is deep. This  is an issue government needs to tackle. So the government needs to tackle to make the ports accessible for big ships and make the ports viable.

“Dredging the   Calabar, Warri, Cross River, and Lagos ports is an investment which government need to make  to boost  the maritime revenue.”

On people arrested for importing fake, sub-standard on expired goods, Ali said they would be prosecuted after full investigations to serve as deterrent to others.

Meanwhile, Ali said NCS seized 99 containers valued at N2.03 billion in its two Area Commands in Port Harcourt.

The customs, he said, seized 11 containers in Port Harcourt Area I Command while it confiscated 87 at Area II, Onne Port.

He said, “Port Harcourt Area 1 Command has effected seizures of 1530kg Pangolin Scales falsely declared as Shale (raw material for analysis) for export and captured on SGD No. E296 of 01/10/2019 with Air Way Bill No. 172-9474-8124 by Divine Help International Limited (the declarant) on behalf of Optimal Logistics Limited (the exporter).”He said the items have a black market value of N826, 200,000.00.

He also said the command  made a “seizure of 10X20FT Containers found to contain Tomato paste and 2x20FT Containers of Canned Mackerel Fish which was also falsely declared to be carrying Agricultural Sprayers, but on 100 per cent physical examination, the Ten (10X20FT) containers were found to contain tomato paste in tins, while the remaining two containers (2X20FT) were found to contain canned Mackerel Fish.”

The total Duty Paid Value for the 12 containers amounts to N96, 638,953.00.

At Area II Command, Onne, the customs seized 87 containers valued N1.11 billion.

The seized items includes 20 container of tomatoes valued N272,261,026.69, 10 containers of vegetable Oil worth N58,380,528.00, 34 containers of roofing tiles amounting to  ₦505,687,096.00, 11 containers of expired rice totaling N102,352,800.00 and one container of machetes with a total value of N36,347,786.00.

Others are nine containers of expired vegetable oil and jam worth N117,614,232.00, on1 container of expired baby wipes with a value of 9,041,714.00, one container of scrap metal amounting to  ₦6,043,780.00.

“As a responsible Agency, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will not disappoint on its mandate of enforcing compliance by maintaining zero tolerance to smuggling activities, irrespective of whoever is involved and under whatever circumstance,” he said.

He disclosed that the Customs generated N89.755 billion from January to date and urged the command to sustain the effort and possibly surpass its 2019 target.