Customs recovers N4bn receipts, intensifies offensive on illegal exports
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The Strike Force Team of the Nigeria Customs Service, Zone ‘A’ said it has shifted strategy from focusing more on imports to identifying export irregularities as it announced fresh seizure of unprocessed wood, charcoal and coal worth millions of naira.
Coordinator of the Strike Force Team, Ahmadu Shuaibu disclosed that it made an unprecedented record of over 200 various seizures in its anti-smuggling operations between January till date: adding that the team recovered revenue receipts of four billion naira, N4billion, within the stated period.
A Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Shuaibu made above disclosure when executive officers of the Shipping Correspondent Association of Nigeria, SCAN, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Lagos, recently.
He attributed the impressive performance of the team largely to the dedication and diligence of its ICT unit, which he described as exceptional, and composed of young hardworking officers.
He said, “We have changed the narrative from import dependent to export irregularities and infractions. We have the ICT unit that monitors the entire landscape of import, so where there is anything to raise suspicion, we put it to ICT, flag it and it is positioned for 100 percent examination, the needful will be done right inside.
“We have that unit, so instead of allowing them to come out and thereafter we seize like when we started, now we have decided to shift our focus, we deploy our energy and intelligence to export irregularities and record from our seizures, which we will showcase very soon, have shown that there are a lot of irregularities in export.”
Reacting to incessant attacks on officers by smugglers, Shuiabu explained that the team relies more and deploys intelligence in its operation; ostensibly to avert crisis and unwarranted attacks on officers. He said the unit will continue to frustrate the antics of unscrupulous business men by subjecting them to constant financial losses, as a way of discouraging them.
“We have unprocessed wood, charcoal and coal that we have gathered. So, currently, exports is receiving closer scrutiny and monitoring. We deploy intelligence we follow you from takeoff location to the precinct of the port or a location adjudged right and operationally safe; and pick you up.
“The risk is there in every aspect of life and we do risk analysis. Ours is intelligence based. We are not out to get Nigerians killed or for us to be killed, so we deploy intelligence. In areas where there are frictions, we do tactical withdrawal, not that we are afraid of such situations but to avoid crises.
“These hoodlums are not the owners of the goods. They are only there to escort the goods to the dens of the barons. So, once we deploy intelligence, we go to their warehouses and homes and evacuate because they themselves are living in their mansions, they don’t want any crisis. Once evacuation is done, what we have inflicted on them is financial loss.
“We are trained specially to ensure that we deploy intelligence, strike and come back. That is why over a year and two months, there has been no crisis, no shooting. We have not killed anyone and none of our operatives have been killed.”