Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, in charge of the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, has drawn the attention of citizens to the negative effect of smuggling on Nigerians and the economy.
Comptroller Ejibunu, who vowed to intensify efforts to reduce smuggling to the barest minimum, made the commitment on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at the Unit’s headquarters while briefing newsmen on the Unit’s activities in January 2024.
According to him, “Smuggling is a crime that has to do with the act of false declaration and concealment of goods, the use of unapproved routes and ports for the exportation or importation of goods, forging of Customs documents, willful under-payment of Customs duties, and trafficking in prohibited or restricted goods among others.”
He emphasized the need for solid collaboration through information and intelligence sharing, saying, “The impact of smuggling has very serious repercussions on the economy, the environment, health and security. Thus, to restrain this trend of illegal commercial activities, there is the need for collaboration and strong partnership with other critical stakeholders through the sharing of information and intelligence”.
He stated that the unit activated an enhanced intelligence-gathering and information-sharing mechanism, which led to 60 seizures during the period under review.
“We were able to identify some new smuggling hot spots and schemes employed by smugglers. This strategy yielded 60 seizures worth a total duty paid value of N854,156,712”. He noted.
Notable among the seizures are; 3,653 X 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 6.5 trailer loads) 23,025 litres of PMS, 241 bales of used clothes, 1,490 kg of Indian Hemp, 1,220 cartons of foreign tomato paste, 983 pieces of used tyres, 104 units of Haojuo motorcycles, 556 cartons of slippers and 11 units of used vehicles.
According to the Customs Boss, the status of the goods were found to have contravened different sections of the Nigeria Customs Service Act, 2023, while some were expired at the time of importation; others flouted the import statutory guidelines.
Ejibunu noted that 10 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the goods.
On revenue recovery, the Unit generated the sum of N83,141,803.60 through documentary checks and issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have been short-paid.
Comptroller Ejibunu appreciated officers and men of the Federal Operations Unit Zone A for their hard work and dedication to duty, and other security agencies for their coordinated efforts, support and cooperation towards some of the successes recorded by the Unit in the preceding year, 2023.
He further urged patriotic citizens to join the enforcement and regulatory agencies to curb the menace of smuggling.
By Ruth Sekyi – Public Sector Global