- Compt. Hussein Ejibunu showcasing some of the smuggled items at the FOU ‘A’ Headquarters in Lagos
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Boosted by logistics support, and its resolve on round-the-clock anti-smuggling campaign, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it seized smuggled goods with a total duty paid value (DPV) of N1.021 billion in November 2022.
The Ag. Controller, Compt. Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu, who showcased the seizures in Lagos Tuesday, said the unit also collected N43.5 million through “uncompromising demand notices (DN) on detected shortfalls in duty payments.”
He insisted that the country would have lost that sum to duty evasion, either through undervaluation, under-declaration, application of wrong Harmonised System (HS) codes or outright false declarations, “but for our meticulous oversight and prevention as a layer of checks.”
Prominent among the seizures, according to him, were 8,999x50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice (approximately 15 trailer loads), 85,300 litres of PMS, 812 pieces of used tyres, 1x40ft container of STC charcoal, and 2x20ft containers with 4,004 cartons of tomato paste.
Others included five used vehicles (tokunbo), 5 litres of vegetable oil, 128 parcels of Indian Hemp,13 cartons of knockout (fireworks), 243 bales of used clothing, 2,976 cartons of new shoes, and 37 cartons of used poultry products.
Ejibunu further disclosed that 14 suspects were arrested for different offences in connection with the seizures during the period under review, 13 of whom have been released on administrative bail while one was still in custody.
On the unit’s resolve against trade infractions of all sorts, Ejibunu noted that typical of lawless smugglers and enemies of the national economy, smugglers have exhibited their expected desperation towards the end of the year.
However, the logistics support, including patrol vehicles and other operational support from the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, CFR (rtd), and members of his management team, the unit remains highly motivated to play their roles in the seizures, he stated.
Ahead the yuletide season, therefore, the unit has recharged its round-the-clock operations across all South West states of the country to lawfully confront smugglers and duty evaders in line with the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
Without exception to the month of November, we have continually intensified our onslaught against smuggling, and “as the year draws to a close, let me reiterate our warning to smugglers, intending smugglers and their collaborators that FOU Zone A would watch, remain active and vigilant at all times.
“We shall vigorously go after them wherever they travel through, or store smuggled items. Even if the smuggled goods are stored in their bedrooms, we shall lawfully swoop on them. It is an ongoing battle that we shall not relent in.
“Without mincing words, I dare say that smugglers would be confronted with the worst Christmas in their life of crime this December. Not only are we going to seize their wares, but we are also determined to arrest them for prosecution.