Uche Usim, Abuja
The Area Controller Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode, on Thursday revealed that his command had made several seizures valued at N501,650,025 from July 2019 till date. Seven suspects were also arrested in connection with the contraband.
He thus advised Nigerians to acquaint themselves with the country’s import and export prohibition list to avoid running afoul of the law.
Kayode in a statement, he cautioned budding importers to confirm the status of any import or export as smugglers were losing millions of naira and forfeiting a lot of money to the federal government.
The seized items include 3,433 bags of foreign rice, medicament, cars, second-hand clothing, and used tyres. “We also have an armoured Land Cruiser, Lexus 570 amongst others.
“Overtures have been made and incentives have been put in place to stop the nefarious activity of rice smuggling which directly impacts on the economy of the country. Despite all these, we still discover that people are not ready to key into government’s programme.
“It is quite unfortunate for them because no matter the way you come in, we are there to nip their activities in the bud; anywhere you pass through we will catch you no matter how clandestine we will get them.
“This one is a Dangote vehicle carrying rice at the back concealed with cement. Anybody that sees it will think that it is conveying cement while it is not so. About two months ago, we showed you the silos that were carrying rice and the tanks that were concealing rice. This has not deterred us; we are always ready and prepared to thwart their antics,” he affirmed.
He advised rice smugglers to desist from smuggling and look into local production of rice to boost food sufficiency in the country. “If you pass through Ondo state, through Ifon Sabe our patrol team are there. If you come out through Mfum and try to come out to anywhere we are there. Ikot Ekpene, Sapele just try it we are there. We are moving around the zone and making people know that this business is no more viable business. Nigeria is aiming at food sufficiency. We have rice in abundance and we have arable land for planting rice in Nigeria. Everywhere is green so why are we in the habit of bringing in what they say we should not bring in,” he queried.
He said the Service has destroyed 49 trucks of medicaments weeks ago but despite that fact, people are still going about doing the same business.
“Our dragnet is everywhere to get those involved in the smuggling of second-hand clothing. These are clothes worn by other people and it is unhygienic for any Nigerian to wear it. That is why it is under absolute prohibition. You cannot bring it in under any disguise but some people are still into the business of trying to bring it in. however we are working towards eradicating smuggling in the country,” he said.
“I am using this medium to appeal to the public that whenever you see customs officers on patrol please be patient with them. It is our duty to pick up any goods that is uncustom; we have the statutory duty to do this. We work with information. This truck was accosted because we had information that this truck carrying plastics is also carrying 165 bags of 50 kg rice. It was caught at 2am when they thought no one is at alert. It takes intelligence to pick something of this nature.”