The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Thursday, intercepted 14 truck load of foreign parboiled rice smuggled into the country from Benin Republic in Ogun State.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, the acting Customs Area Controller, Compt. Hussein Ejibunu, said the unit, collected a debit note worth N66.72million from cargo importers over under-declaration of cargoes.
The unit also disclosed that through the Federal High Court, it secured eight convictions during the last 10 months, while 48 different cases are at various stages of prosecution.
The convicted smugglers According to Ejibunu are, Ayo Ayinla; Abdulrasak Egbekunle and Tunde Rasheed (found in possession of bags foreign parboiled rice).
Others are, Kehinde Kilani (improper Importation); Adeleke Adebayo (found in possession of bags of foreign parboiled rice), Victor Hassan and Yusuf Shuaib (found in possession of smuggled goods, and Nguyen Huy Hieu (found to be in possession of Pangolin scales meant for export).
Speaking on the interception, Ejibunu, said, the unit seized 221 cartons of foreign smuggled poultry products; 486 parcels of Canabis Sativa also known as indian hemp; four units of foreign used vehicles; 111 pieces of used tyres, 10 bales of used clothing and eight sacks of used shoes.
According to the Customs boss, 48 different cases are at various stages of prosecution, saying 2,428 kegs of 25 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) and other contraband worth N746million were intercepted in April, 2023.
“While the smugglers planned to take us unaware during the religious festivities, our round-the-clock patrols were sustained and backed with intelligence even during the public holidays. Interestingly, the outcome of our unrelenting onslaught against smuggling is the remarkable drop evident in the number of seizures recorded with zero casualties.
“We want to reiterate that it pays for importers, exporters, haulage operators, and their agents to operate within the ambit of the law because doing otherwise places them at risk of losing their investments and facing prosecution as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA),” he added.
He, however, disclosed that the unit in its quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under-payments, and wrong classification, raised a debit note of N66.726 million from importers.
Ejibunu warned against smuggling of contrabands into the country, saying smuggling is not a business but a crime.
“The perpetrators of these criminal activities are not unaware of what the law says because we have taken enlightenment to them through different ways, including enlisting assistance of traditional rulers, community leaders and the media.
“Thus, anyone that puts in his savings or obtains a loan to invest in any illegitimate business will have to contend with the attendant consequences of such choices, when the law will take its natural course.
“No matter the mouth-watering returns people expect to make from smuggling, they should have it at the back of their minds that they stand the risk of losing their investment, prosecuted and jailed,” he pointed out.
He added that, the successes recorded by this Unit in the suppression of desperate measures for economic criminality would not have been possible without the deployment of logistics support provided by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, (Rtd) and his management team in the battle to protect the national economic interest.