Seized Clothing: FOU Zone A on Trail of Smugglers
Secures 6 Prosecution, Recovers ₦622m
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit of, Zone A, Lagos has said it is on the trail of the owners of a total of 1,955 bales of used clothing arrested at an abandoned building around the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex .
According to the Unit Controller, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, it is the highest single seizure of used clothing made by the service this year, adding the customs is seeking the arrest of the owners of the items for possible prosecution; essentially to serve as deterrent to others because of both the health and economic issues.
He said, “Used clothing in commercial quantity falls under absolute prohibition. They have been seized and we are on the trail of the smugglers to get them arrested. Smuggling of used clothes has economic and health implications on our people. The government in it’s wisdom wants the local textile industry to enjoy protection and create more jobs for Nigerians from the cotton farms through the textile and garment factories to our markets.
He explained that the discovery and evacuation was achieved using combined strategies of intelligence, tact and enforcement.
“The very serious health implication of this act of textile smuggling is exposure of users to skin diseases like scabies and fungal diseases which can be transmitted by wearing unwashed second-hand clothes. This is coming at a time when the world is wary of monkey pox whose mode of transmission includes clothing.”
The FOU boss also disclosed that the total seizures made by the unit amount to a Duty Paid Value of Six Hundred and Twenty-two Million, Four Hundred and Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Eighty-six Naira (₦622,407,586), being its scorecard for the month of September 2022.
He said his operatives are ready to give smugglers a run for their money, especially within the remaining period of the ember months.
“In our efforts to prevent losses to government, we also recovered the sum of One Hundred and Seven Million, Eight Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Six Hundred Twenty-two Naira, Seventy-five Kobo (N107,816,622.75) for the period under review.
“September marked the end of third quarter leading us closer to the end of the year when smugglers show more desperation. We are aware that smugglers desperation rises towards the yuletide period. In view of this, we are strategizing ahead of them, not only to seize their wares but also to arrest and make them face prosecution.”
Speaking about other seizures, Ejibunu said, “Also within the same period, a large cache of premium motor spirit (PMS) ingeniously concealed inside sacks was intercepted at the Badagry Axis of Lagos State.
“Other seizures recorded within the same period are: 7,328 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, 121,550 litres of premium motor spirit, 68 cartons of frozen poultry, 37 crates of eggs used to conceal rice, 150 kg parcels of Indian Hemp, 10 pieces of military Camouflage bags, Six units of used cars (Tokunbo), I unit of pump action rifle, 2 units of locally made guns and 35 live cartridges.
“Five suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures mentioned above. Interestingly, the Federal High Court passed three judgments in favor of this Unit on three criminal cases; securing the conviction of six people for being in possession of smuggled goods; while six civil suits against the Unit were dismissed for lack of merit.
He urged Nigerians to support the work of the customs by providing it with useful information that will reduce the menace of smuggling such as petroleum products, saying it is a hazardous business.
“For the seized petroleum products, we have gotten them safely disposed due to their volatile nature. I want to advise patriotic members of border communities through which petrol is smuggled to report to us for timely interception, seizure and arrests.
“These quantities of petroleum products in the hands of smugglers could burn down communities and endanger lives and property in the event of fire.”