Customs unravels over 600 vehicles awaiting forge clearing process in Benin Republic
…intercepts 29,875 liters of PMS, others worth over N501.4m
By Seun Ibiyemi
The Acting Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu has announced that the unit unravels over 600 pictures of vehicles domiciled in Benin Republic awaiting to undergo forged clearing process by the same criminal syndicate.
This is even as the unit intercepted assorted items including 29,875 liters of petroleum motor spirit, 5,328 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 9 trailer loads), 40 ft container said to contain 512 cartons of generator s (on detention for false declaration) among others.
Speaking at a press briefing in Ikeja Lagos, the Customs boss said 18 suspects were arrested in connection with some of these offenses in February 2023, and are at different stages of investigation and prosecution.
Ejibunu said “sequel to the arrest of one suspect (Shuaibu Kolo) with a 2007 Mercedes Benz along Ajilete-Idiroko Road of Ogun State, whose arrest and in-depth investigation that 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.
Items recovered from the suspects in the course of arrest and investigation are: Fake Customs valuation stamp, Fake Customs Duty Chart Book on vehicles, Fake Customs documents and vehicle registration documents, 4 computer monitors, 3 computer processing units, 1 keyboard, 1 printer.
He said “It is an unpatriotic activity that involves the importation or exportation of goods through unlawful means with the objective to evade or underpay Customs duties, taxes, and any other measures of prohibition or restrictions on the importation or exportation of such goods.
Smuggling has an extensive menace on the economy that has continued to impact on activities of locally manufactured goods. It also encourages acts of criminality in society.
Smuggling according to the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45 LFN (2004) is any or all of the following:
|. Outright avoidance of Customs official control across the p orts and borders
Il. under declaration of goods; a situation where the importer declares a lesser quantity than the actual quantity of good s imported
lIl.under valuation of goods; a circumstance whereby goods valued lower than the correct value
IV. wrong classification of goods; this is a situation of declaring goods under a different class of imports to attract a lower rate of duty and tax
V. falsification of Customs documents with the intention to e vade or reduce duties and tax. Smuggling is an unpatriotic act and a crime that can lead perpetrators to jail.
Other notable among the wares seized in February 2023 for non-compliance with the extant Customs laws are:
1 x 40 ft container said to contain 2,298 cartons of half gasoline engines (on detention for false declaration).
283 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products.
75 kilograms of cannabis sativa.
5S units of foreign-used vehicles.
.1x 40 ft container said to contain charcoal meant for export
These goods have a total duty paid value of Five Hundred and One Million, Four Hundred and Sixty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Five Naira (N501,460,875).
Ejibunu said that “the effects of smuggling these wares have a very significant negative impact on our economy. Which include loss of revenue, distortion of market prices, and collapse of local industries.
“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 the one arrested using charms to attack personnel at Owoyele Igbogila road of Ogun State.
“While i discourage and call for their repentance, any act of recalcitrance would call for the full wrath of the law on an y one found culpable”.
“In our quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under-payments, and wrong classification, the sum of One Hundred and Three Million, Six Hundred and Four Thousand, Two Hundred and Ninety-Seven Naira, Thirty-Two Kobo (N103,604,297.32) was collected following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters”.
He added that “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, he said