The Federal Operations Unit, zone A in Lagos continued to make impressive seizures as it apprehended goods worth more than N746.1 million in the month of April alone.
Controller of the Unit, Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu told newsmen today that the seizures include 8,309 by 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice –equivalent of 14 trailer loads. Others include 486 parcels (262kg) of Indian Hemp – (cannabis sativa), 221 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products, 10 bales of used clothing, 111 pieces of used tyres, 2,4282 x 25 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and 8 sacks of used shoes.
Ejibunu disclosed that the Unit, through the Federal High Court, has secured eight convictions in the last 10 months, while 48 different cases are at various stages of prosecution. The offences ranged from smuggling of foreign rice, improper importation, and possession of Pangolin scales meant for export.
The Customs boss stated that “while the smugglers planned to take us unaware during religious festivities, our round-the-clock patrols were sustained and backed with intelligence even during the public holidays. The outcome of our unrelenting onslaught against smuggling is the remarkable drop evident in the number of seizures recorded with zero casualties”.
He reminded the Nigerian public that smuggling is not a business, but a crime and therefore, ‘our resolve to protect the Nigerian economy will continue to be passionately pursued, while the fight against economic saboteurs must remain at the front burner’.
The Controller noted that the perpetrators of these criminal activities are not unaware of what the law says, as he noted that they have taken enlightenment to them through different ways, including enlisting assistance of traditional rulers, community leaders and the media.
“Thus, any one that puts in his savings or obtains a loan to invest in any illegitimate business will have to contend with the attendant consequences of such choices, when the law will take its natural course”.
He warned that no matter the mouth-watering returns people expect to make from smuggling, they should have it at the back of their minds that they stand the risk of losing their investment, prosecuted and failed.
Ejibunu also re-iterated that it pays for Importers, Exporters, Haulage operators and their Agents to operate within the ambit of the law because “doing otherwise places them at the risk of losing their investments and facing prosecution as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA)”.
In the Unit’s quest to prevent revenue loss through various infractions such as, under-valuation, under-payments and wrong classification, the sum of N66,726,153.35 was collected following issuance of Demand Notices to defaulters.
According to him, success recorded by the Unit in the suppression of desperate measures for economic criminality would not have been possible without the deployment of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), CFR and his management.