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Customs Ow Ahmed Abubakar Azarema

Customs: FOU Owerri neutralizes smugglers, says fighting scourge everyone’s role

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The Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Azarema Ahmed Abubakar, has averred that whereas his officers and men will continue to hit hard on smugglers, fighting illegal trade remains everybody’s duty.

Elated Abubakar, who addressed top media executive at the Government Warehouse in Abia/Imo Command, on the latest seizures made by the Unit in its anti-smuggling operations on Thursday, July 26, 2018, noted that efforts of his Command in fighting smuggling are yielding positive results and will be sustained.

He reaffirmed that the Unit will not relent in bringing smuggling activities to a halt and called on the media and general public to support the fight by availing the Service with useful information.

Fielding questions from newsmen, Comptroller Azarema stressed that “anyone embarking on importation or export should first ascertain the eligibility of such item”.

He further implored traders, importers, agents and everyone involved in trade to embark on legal importation and ensure the appropriate payment of duties where applicable.

He further made it clear that “Where there is compliance we will rest. As long as there is no compliance we will always be on our toes and you will see more seizures and arrests. The position of the law is to seize and arrest to serve as a deterrent. We will do more to send across the message that we will not stop until the right thing is done.”

Displaying some of the seized items concealed in a truck with empty crates of alcoholic beverage, Comptroller Azarema enjoined smugglers to put their ingenuity to good use adding that the Unit has a good information network that aids in the discharge of their duties.

Explaining more on the issue of high duty rates as a reason for smuggling, the FOU boss noted that duty rates remain a natural issue globally and high duty rate should not be an excuse to smuggle.

He advised that those concerned should go through the right channel and put out their critique to the federal government for a redress, describing the government as listening and caring for its citizens.

Azarema stressed that “The policies of government are for the interest and benefit of the nation and adhering to such policies will bring about peace and prosperity to everyone. Those who misdeclared and falsely concealed have already signified intent to defraud.”

He further advised smugglers to desist affirming that the Unit under his watch will not relapse in the discharge of their duties.

Business Hilights South East Bureau chief reports that highlights of the seizures with duty paid value amounting to over N153million naira include 1x40feet container containing 309 bales of used clothing all with a duty paid value of N56,280,000.00; 588 cartons of footwear with a duty paid value of N70,560,000.00; and 335 bags of 50kg rice with duty paid value of N8,576,000.00

Others are 1090 pieces of 25 litres of vegetable oil with duty paid value of N10,191,500.00 and 200 rolls of rubber hose with duty paid value of N2,400,000.00 used to conceal the footwear, among other items.

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