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Customs Zone C seizes 3433 bags of rice, others in two months, warns smugglers

The Customs Area Controller Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Kayode Olusemire  has advised Nigerians to acquaint themselves with the country’s import and export prohibition list to avoid running afoul of the law.

Giving updates on the activities of his command in a press briefing at Customs government warehouse in Aduwawa Benin, Olusemire said the Service is not against legal trade or business but against illegal importation and smuggling. He disclosed that the Unit has made various seizures with a cumulative duty paid value of N501, 650,025 from July 2019 till date.

On the rising complaints and public outcry against constant seizures by the Unit, he advised would be importers to confirm the status of any import or export they are to embark on as smugglers are losing millions of naira and forfeiting a lot of money to the federal government.

Conducting newsmen round the warehouse where the seizures were displayed he said rice still tops the list of items seized by the Unit with a record of 3433 bags of foreign rice seized from July till date. This was followed by others like medicament, cars, second hand clothing, and used tyres amongst others.

He said “We have over 3433 bags of 50 kg foreign rice that was intercepted. Government has said a lot on importation of rice into the nation. Overtures have been made and incentives have been put in place to stop the nefarious activity of rice smuggling which directly impacts on the economy of the country. Despite all these we still discover that people are not ready to key in to government’s programme.

“Go over there you will see rice, you will see medicament, you will see used tires, you will see bales of second hand clothing. These are items that we believe that by now with all the efforts being made by government it ought to have stopped but people are still going about bringing them in. It is quite unfortunate for them because no matter the way you come in we are there to nip their activities in the bud; anywhere you pass through we will catch you no matter how clandestine we will get them.

“This one is a Dangote vehicle carrying rice at the back concealed with cement. Anybody that sees it will think that it is conveying cement while it is not so. About two months ago we showed you the silos that were carrying rice and the tanks that were concealing rice. This has not deterred us; we are always ready and prepared to thwart their antics,” he affirmed.

Customs Owerri
Customs Area Controller, FOU Zone ‘C’ Owerri, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode

Accordingly, he advised rice smugglers to desist from smuggling and look into local production of rice to boost food sufficiency in the country, stressing that “If you pass through Ondo state, through Ifon Sabe our patrol team are there. If you come out through Mfum and try to come out to anywhere we are there. Ikot Ekpene, Sapele just try it we are there. We are moving round the zone and making people to know that this business is no more a viable business. Nigeria is aiming at food sufficiency. We have rice in abundance and we have arable land for planting rice in Nigeria.”

Everywhere is green so why are we in the habit of bringing in what they say we should not bring in,” he queried.

He disclosed that 7 suspects were arrested in connection with the rice.

Comptroller Olusemire while displaying a truckload of medicaments with no NAFDAC registration number or generic name condemned such importations describing as being harmful to the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.

“Here we have a truckload of medicaments. The Service has destroyed 49 trucks of medicaments weeks ago but despite that fact people are still going about doing the same business.  These are medicaments to be sold to innocent citizens without NAFDAC number neither does it have a generic name known to anybody. Can’t we just change our means of livelihood? If you know this is not good for the people why do you go about bringing it in?” he asked calling on smugglers to turn a new leaf.

“We have rice here concealed with all these electronics. When you see it on the road you will think they are carrying something else. Some transport companies are in the business of conveying contraband goods so my appeal to anybody is that if you are transporting your consignment please be sure of the transport company you are using to transport your goods. When they are loading your consignment at any of the parks be there to ensure your consignment is not loaded with contraband. You can go to Customs website and see the contraband listed there. There is no ignorance in law.

“Our dragnet is everywhere to get those involved in the smuggling of second hand clothing. These are clothes worn by other people and it is unhygienic for any Nigerian to wear it. That is why it is under absolute prohibition. You cannot bring it in under any disguise but some people are still into the business of trying to bring it in. however we are working towards eradicating smuggling in the country,” he said.

“I am using this medium to appeal to the public that whenever you see customs officers on patrol please be patient with them. It is our duty to pick up any goods that is uncustom, we have the statutory duty to do this. We work with information. This truck was accosted because we had information that this truck carrying plastics is also carrying 165 bags of 50 kg rice. It was caught at 2am when they thought no one is at alert. It takes intelligence to pick something of this nature.

“Please we appeal to the masses that we need information. We need your assistance because most of these smugglers are members of the society. Information given to us will be treated discreetly. Nobody will disclose or divulge your information. Please we need it to be able to eradicate the smugglers in the country.

Displaying the vehicles intercepted in Benin axis he said, “we are having 16 of these beautiful vehicles seized from July to date. We have an armoured Land Cruiser, Lexus 570 amongst others. I wonder why you travel abroad and buy a car and pay for your car over there but to come and pay duty in Nigeria becomes a problem. Most people say they bought their vehicles from car dealers and we have been advocating that if you get into any car lot ask for the C number that is the Customs number. With this you will be able to confirm if the document given to you is genuine. Call any customs formation we have Help Desk with information pertaining to any vehicle you wish to purchase. So before you buy a car in Lagos and it is accosted in Benin or in Warri and you start telling us that I didn’t know please confirm your C number to know if duty was paid on the vehicle,” he advised.

He also urged importers to pay appropriate duty on their vehicles. “Even if you went through the port and duty was paid we can confirm if the duty paid is enough if it is not enough we give you DN. we have accosted containers and cars and we raised DN because we discovered the duty paid on it was not enough,” he declared.