By Steve Agbota
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Strike Force on Wednesday disclosed that the CGC has directed the unit to invade warehouses and markets across the South-West for smuggled foreign rice and contraband smuggled into the country.
Speaking against the backdrop of the seizure of 1,930 bags of 50kg smuggled rice evacuated from various warehouses in Lagos and Ogun states, the co-ordinator, CGC’s Strike Force, Zone A, Lagos, Deputy Compt. Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu, said the directive was to boost the local production of rice in the country.
Shuaibu, who lamented high rate of cargoes that are falsely declared as machineries in order to evade Cutoms duty and levy, said the unit generated N708millon in the last two weeks.
According to him, 1,227 rolls of chiffon textiles materials, 18 pallets of perfumes, cosmetics and bags, 2,064 cartons of electric bulbs as well as 1,810 cartons of alcoholic and non-alcholic wines were all seized and will be forfeited to the Federal Government.
He said: “1,930 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice in two weeks. This is to ensure that the country is rid of smuggled foreign parboiled rice as we have instructions of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), that markets and warehouses of smugglers should be raided and smuggled rice evacuated.”
He stated further that due to the heat from the unit, smugglers have found it difficult to move smuggled foreign rice from the border in large quality but in batches through motorcycles also known as Okada, but the Strike Force has restricted them and stopped their operations.
Speaking on infraction, the strike force coordinator said: “We have various degree of infractions on cargoes that were seized. Cargoes such as perfumes, non-alchoholic wines, electric bulbs, foot wears, bags and shoes tgat were falsely declared as machineries and washing machine.”
“Perfumes, non-alcholic wines, electric bulbs, textiles are dutiable but foreign footwears, bags are banned because we have factories investing heavily and employing Nigerians to produce so, we must encourage them to do more and must not discourage them through importation of those items into the country.”
Shuaibu further stated that the falsely declared cargoes have been seized outrightly and will be forfeited to federal government.
“We are still appealing to our stakeholders that they should work hand in hand to ensure that proper declaration and they should join hands and change their habit. Perfume is dutiable but once it is falsely declared it is liable to seizure. Also, non-alcholic wines are liable to seizure, we have factories that produces wines so, we should patronise them to boost the economy.”
“Chiffon materials brought in as sealing machines when we have textiles companies all around the country closing down but, we will plead for genuine declaration and patriotism though, it was dutiable but because it was falsely declared, it remained seized,”he said.
Disclosing why importers prefer false declaration to honest declaration of cargoes, Shuaibu said machineries pay five percent customs duty and are not levied while other luxury goods like pefumes, non-alchoholic wines have high Customs duty with import levy.