‘Smuggling Involves False Declaration, Concealment, Use of Unapproved Entry Points’ – Ejibunu
BY FUNMI ALUKO
The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A Lagos Controller, Comptroller Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu Tuesday, provided an operational definition of smuggling to include acts inconsistent with the rules of engagement, noting that the unit under his watch will continue to treat such acts not only as unpatriotic but also as criminal; making all such persons peddling one or all of the acts, enemy of Nigeria.
Comptroller Ejibunu who made above declaration in his office and headquarter of the unit while briefing the press on the unit’s performance for the month of January 2024, said a total of 60 seizures was made with Duty Paid Value of N854,156,712.
He gave the breakdown of the items seized to include 3,653 X 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, which is equivalent to 6.5 trailer loads; 23,025 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS); 241 bales of used clothes; 1,490 kg of cannabis sativa (Indian Hemp); 1,220 cartons of foreign tomato paste; 983 pieces of used tyres; 104 units of Haojuo motorcycles; 556 cartons of slippers; and 11 units of used vehicles.
The FOU Zone A boss appreciated his officers and men for their due diligence, hard work and commitment for staying the cause in the year ended 2023; even as he praised importers and their agents including other stakeholders who demonstrated business integrity by remaining compliant.
“Let me use this medium to thank the officers and men of the Federal Operations Unit Zone A, for their hard work and dedication to duty,and other security agencies for their coordinated efforts, support and cooperation towards some of the successes recorded by this Unit in the preceding year, 2023.
“In a like manner, I also appreciate the patriotism of compliant importers, exporters and agents for their compliance with the Service’s extant procedures and regulations; I urge you to keep it up.”
Speaking on the mandate of the unit, he said, “Smuggling is a crime that has to do with; the act of false declaration and concealment of goods, the use of unapproved routes and ports for the exportation or importation of goods, forging of Customs documents, willful under-payment of Customs duties, andtrafficking in prohibited or restricted goods among others.
“The impact of smuggling has very serious repercussions on the economy, the environment, health and security. Thus, to restrain this trend of illegal commercial activities, there is the need for collaboration and strong partnership with other critical stakeholders through sharing of information and intelligence.
“In a continuous and renewed vigour to fight smuggling, we activated an enhanced intelligence gathering and information sharing mechanism, and were able to identify some new smuggling hot spots and schemes employed by smugglers. This strategyyielded60 seizures worth a total duty paid value of N854,156,712.”
Shedding light on the seizures, Ejibunu said, “The status of these goods was found to have contravened different sections of the Customs Act (2023), while some were (already) expired at the time of importation; others flaunted the import statutory guidelines”, adding that a total of ten suspects were arrested in connection with some of the goods.
On revenue recovery, he said “the sum of N83,141,803.60 was generated through documentary checks and issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have been short-paid.”
He appealed for support with credible information on acts of economic sabotage and suspicious movement of goods from the general public, stressing that security is the business of all citizens.
“The general public is encouraged to be aware of the consequences of smuggling and its harmful effects; because it is this awareness that would help to reduce the demand for smuggled goods and discourage individuals from participating in smuggling activities.
“Having established the fact that smuggling is a crime which affects the general wellbeing of the nation; it becomes compelling for all patriotic citizens to join the enforcement and regulatory agencies to curb the menace of smuggling”, he said.