‘Foreign Poultry Products, Used Clothing Detrimental To Citizens Health’ – Ejibunu
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
For the umpteenth time, Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Nigeria Customs Service, Hussein Ejibunu has appealed to Nigerians to desist from bringing in foreign poultry products and used clothing, lamenting the health risks they pose for consumers and users.
The deputy comptroller of customs explained that the consequent health risk from consuming these items is akin to the maxim ‘penny wise, pound foolish’, and enjoined Nigerians to be safety conscious always and avoid taking risks with their health on the altar of cheaper alternatives.
Speaking while showcasing seizures made by the unit for March, Ejibunu said the price to pay for citizens indifference to risks is costlier compared to buying and consuming only safe products certified by relevant authorities, noting that the apparent monetary affordability which is the reasons for opting for cheaper alternative but unsafe products is the health risks they pose.
In addition he warned non compliant importers, smugglers who other economic saboteurs who are intent on flouting government policies and lawful economic protection to also be ready for maximum confrontation by operatives of the unit.
His words: “While the federal government played its role by imposing trade restrictions in an effort to protect our local companies and farmers from unhealthy competition with foreign firms, the onus lies on its citizens to complement government’s efforts with that of compliance with the Customs’ extant regulations and government’s fiscal policies. “This can be achieved by making sincere declarations, and being properly guided by the import/export prohibition lists.
It is imperative to note that the wisdom behind the government’s protectionist policy is to protect the national economy and safeguard its citizens’ lives and property.”
He explained that imported second hand clothes and clothing from Asia, Europe and America are purveyor of various kinds of health ailments, that is contagious.
“Smuggled bales of used clothes expose its users to fungal diseases and other skin diseases like scabies. Apart from the effect of smuggled foreign frozen poultry products on the economy, it also affects the health of its consumers.
“Some of these frozen poultry products are preserved under questionable conditions. This assertion is embedded in some previous laboratory reports by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)”, he said.
The Unit Controller assured that his operatives will always be a step ahead of smugglers as the customs is also busy planning and re-strategizing on its operational efficiencies at detecting smugglers unscrupulous tactics.
“Our strategies are consistently being reworked in our efforts to be ahead of the economic saboteurs, towards defeating their game of concealment, false declaration, under payment, and duty evasion.”
Speaking further, the anti-smuggling czar said its efforts also led to the recovery of the sum of Seventy-Two Million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Seven Naira, Nine Kobo (N72,693,307.09).
“As a part of the results achieved from the reworked strategy; expired, illicit, and other drugs that did not comply with the statutory import requirements were intercepted at different times and locations are constructively warehoused in 39 x 140 ft and 2 x 20 ft containers by this Unit, and will be handed over to NAFDAC for possible destruction (with a DPV of N1, 422,000,000).
“In our efforts to prevent loss of government revenue to duty underpayments that either arose from the undervaluation of imported items or wrong Harmonized System (HS) code classification; the sum of Seventy-Two Million, Six Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Seven Naira, Nine Kobo (N72,693,307.09) was recovered during the period under review.”
According to him, “These seizures are a reflection of our commitment to duty and non-compromise in the discharge of our functions; aimed at protecting the nation’s economy and preventing importation of prohibited and harmful products from entering our domestic markets.”
He listed items seized for the period under review to include rice, petrol, second hand clothing, imported poultry products amongst others, with a duty paid value (DPV) stood at Six Hundred and Ninety-Four Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Two Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Naira (N694,462,150.00).
“Prominent among the seizures made for contravening various sections of the extant Customs laws are: 6,228 X 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 11 trailer loads); 35,325 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known locally as petrol; 279 Cartons of foreign poultry products; 105 parcels (50kg) of cannabis sativa; 8 units of foreign used (Tokunbo) vehicles, and 2x40ft containers said to contain 883 bales of used clothes.
“The total worth of these goods in terms of duty paid value (DPV) stood at Six Hundred and Ninety-Four Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Two Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Naira (N694,462,150.00).”
He also disclosed that five (5) suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seized goods.