By Steve Agbota, Lagos
The Federal Operations Unit Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it has intercepted 34,725 litres of smuggled petrol, 12 trailers of rice, and 201 cartons of expired seasoning (Chicken Cubes), among other contraband.
The unit reported that it arrested nine suspects in connection with some seizures that were intercepted while trying to smuggle them into the country.
Notable among the seizures recorded within the period under review are: 7,261 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice(equivalent to 12 trucks load), 600 bags of basmati rice (5kg each), 34,725 litres of petroleum motor spirit (PMS), 39 bales of used clothes, 225 pieces of used tyres, 201 cartons of expired seasoning (Chicken Cubes), 331 cartons of frozen poultry, six units of used imported cars, 2,634 cartons of slippers/shoes, 900 pairs of used shoes, 42 units of used motorcycles, etc with a cumulative duty paid value (DPV) of N537.480 million.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on the successes recorded by the unit in the month of July 2022, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), FOU Zone A, Deputy Comptroller, Hussein Ejibunu, said in furtherance to its commitment to enforcing the government’s laws and policies, aimed at safeguarding the nation’s economy as well as its citizen’s health, the unit had intercepted some goods that are of health and safety concerns.
“A misplaced priority as demonstrated in the use of hard-earned forex for the importation of expired seasonings (Chicken Cubes), used clothes, shoes and tyres is not only injurious to the economy but also a despicable act by some desperate importers to make monetary gains at the detriment of other people’s health,” he added.
“Let me use this medium to remind you that poultry products remain a prohibited item under the import list, because of its attending health and economic implications. It may interest you to know that the federal government in her wisdom banned the importation of poultry products so as to support the growth of our domestic poultry farms, and to protect them from foreign competition.”
Secondly, he explained that it was discovered that in the process of transporting these products, some hazardous chemicals are applied to help preserve the products; since its frozen state of being cannot be sustained till it reaches the final consumers.
“This act calls for public concern as it could be a source of different ailments and diseases.
Perhaps, there is no Nigerian family that has not been affected by either an accident caused by a substandard or used tyre, skin diseases or cancers and many more; as a result of patronage to prohibited imported products into the country.
“While we collectively sympathize with those that are affected by this menace, we are also calling on patriotic citizens to cooperate with the Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies to stamp it out,” he said.
He said some weeks ago, Nigerians had to pay more for premium motor spirit (PMS) amidst scarcity. Despite the fact that the federal government had subsidized the product for local consumption, many Nigerians still passed through this hardship; partly because some unscrupulous citizens choose to satisfy their egoistic desires by smuggling the products into the Republic of Benin; some of which were along the border corridors.
He revealed that through meticulous checks on import documents, followed by the issuance of demand notices to importers/agents found to have short-paid their duties; the sum of N24.956 million was collected as revenue.
He explained that the amount would have been lost to some non-compliant importers/agents if not for the watchfulness and uncompromising disposition of officers of the unit.
“From the foregoing, it is evident that these dare devil smugglers are unrelenting in executing their unlawful and vile businesses. We are, therefore, soliciting useful and timely information from patriotic Nigerians to enable us tame smuggling.
“Compliant importers and agents are encouraged to sustain their compliance level, as the unit and the Service remain resolute at facilitating legitimate trade,” he said.