A syndicate which specialises in the cloning of customs documents with a view to smuggling into the country more than 600 assorted vehicles has been smashed by men of the Federal Operations Unit zone A, Ikeja.
Two of the suspects have already been arrested and they are helping the service with information to fish out other accomplices connected with the criminal act.
Controller of the Unit, Hussein kehinde Ejibunu told newsmen in lagos today that the suspects have been forging several import documents, customs stamps and other vehicle registration documents which may look authentic to unsuspecting members of the public.
‘In continuation of our onslaught against smuggling and economic saboteurs, this Unit made a major breakthrough in the bursting and arrest of a two- man syndicate that forge customs clearing documents.
Sequel to the arrest of one suspect (Shuaibu kolo) with a 2007 Mercedes Benz along Ajilete-Idiroko Road of Ogun state, whose address and indepth 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’
The controller said items recovered from the suspects in the course of arrest and investigation include, fake customs valuation stamp, fake customs Duty Chart Book on vehicles, fake customs documents and vehicle registration documents.
Others are four computer monitors, three computer processing units, one keyboard and one printer.
The implication of the criminal act, when perfected and successful would imply that the customs will be losing huge revenue, if undetected, but noted that they would not have beaten the several layers of checks and enforcement by the service.
Ejibunu alerted Nigerians who want to buy vehicles to first cross-check thoroughly from any customs formation to confirm that clearing and import documentation were processed through the legal system.
He stated that the suspects now in custody will soon be charged to court.
He regretted that in their resolve to safeguard the national economy and prevent revenue loss, officers on legitimate duties are ambushed and attacked by suspected smugglers and their sympathisers, using guns, 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”
Ejibunu also said 5,328 bags of foreign parboiled rice (equivalent of nine trailer loads) as well as 1×40 ft container with 2,298 cartons of half gasoline engines on detention on false declaration
Other seizures include 29,875 liters of premium motor spirit, 283 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products, 75 kilograms of cannabis sativa, 5 units of foreign used vehicles and 1×40 ft container of charcoal meant for export.
He said the effects of smuggling of these wares have a very significant negative impact on our economy.
They include loss of revenue, distortion of market prices, and collapse of local industries, noting that all patriotic citizens must join the fight against economic saboteurs.
The seizures have a total Duty paid value of N501,460,875.
In their quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under payment and wrong classification, the sum of N103,604,297.32 was collected following the issuance of Demand Notices to defaulters.
Ejibunu assured the business community that the 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 deposed.