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Customs seizures

Senate says N1.45tn worth of goods smuggled from Cotonou into Nigeria yearly

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A serious indictment has been hammered on the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) by the Senate President Bukola Saraki as he decried that unabated smuggling of goods from Cotonou, Benin Republic into Nigeria has risen to over N1.4tn

Relying on World Bank data, Saraki noted that “astonishing N1.45 trillion worth of assorted goods are smuggled into Nigeria through Benin Republic alone every year”.

The chief lawmaker who spoke at the opening of a public hearing on ‘Smuggling – A Threat to Nigeria’s Quest to Self-Sufficiency in Rice Production’, organised by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff in Abuja on Monday, recalled that the activities of smugglers were threatening Nigeria’s economy to an elastic limit.

According to him, the key victims of the smuggling trade have been rice and poultry products and the threat has weakened self-sufficiency in rice production.

He said “A considerable amount of revenue to be collected by the Federal Government is being lost in addition to other adverse impacts that the smuggled items cause to local industry.

“Obviously, this act cannot be achieved without the cooperation and connivance of corrupt officials, including those in the law enforcement agencies.

“A World Bank report of 2016 states that an astonishing N1.45 trillion worth of assorted goods are smuggled into Nigeria through Benin Republic alone every year.

“This loss in revenue is one which we can longer afford at this crucial time when the government is doing all it can to meet up with its budgetary expenditures.

“Our local producers have continued to face daunting obstacles posed by the activities of smugglers, in spite of government’s restrictions on importations.

“Therefore, we must exploit all avenues and investigate corrupt practices in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government,’’ Saraki said.

Checks by Business Hilights along the Lagos-Badagry expressway on Sunday around Iyanoba and Vespa Bus Stops showed continuing smuggling of rice and ferrying by Okada riders who load about five bags at a go.

Some of the Okada riders who spoke on grounds of anonymity said whereas Customs operatives block the highways, they use the creeks and other cutoffs including bush parts to escape at all times.


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