Nigeria News

Customs Arrests Trans-border Syndicate Forging Import Duty Documents In Lagos


The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Tuesday, disclosed that officers of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, bursted a two-man syndicate that specialised in forging Customs clearing documents for vehicles brought into Nigeria from the neighbouring Benin Republic.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lagos, the acting Customs Area Controller, FOU, Zone A, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, revealed that the unit intercepted contraband with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N501.4million from the South-West in the last one month.

He further disclosed that as at the time of arrest, the syndicate was on the verge of bringing over 600 vehicles into Nigeria from Benin Republic with fake documents.

According to Ejibunu, the suspects were arrested with fake Customs valuation stamps, fake Customs Duty Chart Book on vehicles, amongst other clearing documents.

He said, “In continuation of our onslaught against smuggling and economic saboteurs, this unit made a major breakthrough in the bursting and arresting of a two-man syndicate that forged Customs clearing documents. Sequel to the arrest of one suspect (Shuaibu Kolo) with a 2007 Mercedes Benz along Ajilete-ldiroko Road of Ogun State, whose arrest and indepth investigation led to the unravelling of over 600 pictures of vehicles domiciled in Benin Republic awaiting to undergo forged clearing process by the same criminal syndicate before being moved into Nigeria.

“ltems recovered from the suspects in the course of arrest and investigation were fake Customs valuation stamp; Fake Customs Duty Chart Book on vehicles; Fake Customs documents and vehicle registration documents; four computer monitors; three computer processing units; one keyboard and One printer.”

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Speaking on the seized items, Ejibunu said nine truckloads of foreign parboiled rice, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Canabis Sativa and charcoal were intercepted.

He said, “Notable among the wares seized In February, 2023 for non-compliance with the extant Customs laws are, 5,328 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 9 truck loads); 1 by 40 ft container said to contain 512 cartons of generators (on detention for false declaration); 1 by 40 ft container said to contain 2,298 cartons of half gasoline engines (on detention for false declaration).

“Others are, 29,875 liters of PMS; 283 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products; 75 kilograms of cannabis sativa; 55 unit of foreign-used vehicles and 1 by 40ft container said to contain charcoal meant for export.”

The Customs boss, however, frowned at attack on personnel of the Service on legitimate duty, saying act of recalcitrance would call for the full wrath of the law on any one found culpable.

“Sadly, however, in our resolve to safeguard the national economy and prevent revenue loss, officers on legitimate duties are ambushed and attacked by suspected smugglers and their sympathizers; using guns, machetes, charms and other dangerous items. The most recent incident of these kind of assaults on officers is someone arrested for using charms to attack personnel at Owoyele igbogila road, Ogun State. While I discourage and call for their repentance, any act of recalcitrance would call for the full wrath of the law on any one found culpable,” he added.

According to the Unit’s acting Controller, 18 suspects were arrested for smuggling contrabands into the country in February, 2023.

“Smuggling is an unpatriotic act and a crime that can lead perpetrators to jail. 18 suspects were arrested in connection with some of these offenses in February 2023, and are at different stages of Investigation and prosecution.”

“The effects of smuggling these wares have a very significant negative impact on our economy. These include loss of revenue, distortion of market prices, and collapse of local industries. Thus, all patriotic citizens are to join the fight against economic sabotage.

“Also, in our quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, underpayments, and wrong classification, the sum of N103.6million was collected following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters.

“Let me use this medium to assure the business community that this unit is ever ready to encourage compliant traders by facilitating their legitimate businesses as enshrined in the extant laws. However recalcitrant traders are strongly advised to desist from violating the extant regulations or be ready to face the full wrath of the law,” Ejibunu stated.

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