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Shuaibu justifies 4-layer import counter-checks

Coordinator of the Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force Zone ‘A’, Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu has said the service’s four layer import counter-check system is to safe guard the economy and national security against acts of economic sabotage.

His justification is coming on the heels of the recovery of a staggering N417million within a spate of three weeks crack down by his operatives, , bringing the full force of its mandate bear in the mop up of import leakages from all the entry points within its territorial jurisdiction.

Shuaibu a Deputy Comptroller of Customs further explained that customs multiple check system is the creation of the Nigerian society to checkmate smuggling and revenue leakages; noting that the multiplicity of the check system created the present four layers of checks; assuring stakeholders that customs merely respond to recurring challenges by saboteurs to undermine the economy.

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He identified the four layers system to consist of the Federal Operations Unit, Strike Force, Customs Police and Border Drill, as a strategic response to remain a step ahead of criminal sophistication to undermine the economy and national security. The coordinator argues that where one of the layers fails to detect import concealment, the probability of the three others also failing becomes slimmer; and appealed to importers and their agents to improve on compliance.

“Once there is meaningful improvement is self regulation and compliance by importers, exporters and their agents, the countercheck layers will find no job to do and they will revert back to status quo. But we must tell ourselves the truth that today, all of us, the society created the multiple layers”, he said.

He described the seizures made by his team as a bold statement which underpins government resolve to close all forms of economic leakages in all of the regions, nationwide. Shuaibu also disclosed that the operation led to the arrest of three suspects, whom he said have been admitted on administrative bail, while further investigations are ongoing.

He explained that the mandate of the team is to scrutinize questionable items to determine their real status and prevent revenue leakages through concealments, under declaration and false declarations; noting his operatives drives the process through information gathering and processing of intelligence.

He linked all the seizures made to contravention of the importation guidelines. According to him,

“Consequent upon a renewed vigor to curtail the activities of smugglers, careful documentary checks and physical examinations were conducted during interceptions, the following among others were found to have contravened Section 46, sub sections b,c,e and f of the Customs and Excise Management Act, CAP C45 LFN of 2004.

He gave the breakdown of the seizures to include “1,185 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 2,147 cartons of cosmetics; 1,320 bales of textile materials; 1,956 cartons of new shoes and vehicles of different kinds with a duty paid value of N417, 228,247”, adding:

“Three suspects were arrested in connection with the goods seized for various offences from different locations within the South West Zone.”

For space management and other consideration, Shuaibu explained that only a fraction of the seizures are kept in it office located within the Customs Training College Ikeja, adding that some of the seizures are in other customs warehouses in Ikorodu and other parts of the zone.

He also disclosed that the team’s intense intelligence gathering and patrols led to the raid of a private warehouse where 13 containers of questionable second hand clothing were stored, and seized, within the period under review.

To foster a forward looking society and discourage unjust and unfair official action, he explained that very often, the mode of conveyance which in most cases not found to be complicit in the act of smuggling, such vehicles used in transporting compliant cargoes are separated and released to their owners; under customs determination to ensure that the innocent does not suffer unduly.

He said under the present leadership, the Nigeria Customs Service is will not create or encourage the creation of poverty and therefore will remain meticulous in processing default cases so as not to deprive owners of duly imported cargoes  through wrong declaration to suffer same fate with smugglers .

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