Between 216 and now, the Federal Operations Units, FOU, Zone A, Lagos and Zone C, had implemented the Service anti-smuggling operations basically on the road where scores of Containerised cargoes exited from the seaport over alleged wrong classifications, false declaration and under-payment including smuggled Contraband, particular, Foreign par boiled rice smuggled into the country from the West African country of Benin Republic. Had been intercepted .
The intercepted Containers by the FOU Zone A, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya were said to have been exited from the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island port, Port Multi-services Terminal, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, Pphases 1&2, while The FOU, Zone C, Owerri, anti-smuggling officers, which controlls the anti-smuggling activities in the south east and south –south geo-polical region and which also had its attention focused on the Containers released from the ports of PortHarcourt Area 2, Onne, Rivers, Delta and Calabar ports, where tens of Containers had fallen into the waiting hands of the Command anti-smuggling officers including the ones that had escaped the eagle eyes of the FOU, Zone A, personnel released from the Lagos ports .
The Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force, and Operations Swift Response Team, popular, Border Drills, both ad-hoc Teams , across the country, had followed the same pattern of operations of the FOU Teams , to do their work: lay ambush for smugglers and fraudulent importers trucks laden Containers on the road over the last two years.
But the approach appear to be gradually changing for the better without any agent , whose client’s Container had been released from the port facing any harassment on the road in the hands of the Lagos Zonal CGC Strike Force personnel in the recent time.
This is evident, going by the approach that had been adopted by the Lagos Team under the close watch of Ahmadu Shuaibu, in the last four weeks to implement their anti-smuggling operations in the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ondo and Ekiti. The Team , according to sources had relied on the Service surveillance unit report and reports from other credible source to strike at targets at the Lagos ports and the land border areas in the region.
Given an insider information of its operations in the last one month, Shuaibu, had said that the had intercepted goods worth over N800 million both at the seaports and the land border areas. The CGC Strike Force Coordinator, who was flanked by Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Public Relations officer , at the Team premises recently, had said that 13 Containers were intercepted around the Lagos port environment.
An angry Customs Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator of the CGC Strike Fore, Zone A, Lagos, had said ’’that false and dubious declarations is sabotaging the nation’s economy’’ . He may have shocked Nigerians when he said that the 13 Containers were sized right at the port because it had contravened the country’s import regulations. ‘’ We are here to fight economic saboteurs and we are determined to take the battle to the Smuggler’s ’amp’’’, he had said.
One of the 13 Containers seized was said to have been loaded with lace materials, though not a prohibited from importation but the importer was said to have made a false declaration to evade payment appropriate payment of duty into the government coffers.
The intercepted Container, which the importer had declared in his bill of laden as carrying machinery tools was said to have been loaded with 756 bundles of lace materials allegedly imported from the Asian country of China.The duty payment Value, DPV, of the 756 bundles of lace materials alone, was put at about N34 million .
Another Container that was said to have been seized by CGC Strike Force, team, was said to have been loaded with footwear, which going by the country’s Fiscal policy is prohibited from being imported into the country. The importer may have played a fast one by falsely declaring it to facilitate its exit from the port for sales during this Yuletide period. The Consignment, which had a DPV, of N32 million may not have reached its destination as it was seized from the port environment after a 100 physical examination exposed what it was carrying and the penalty for it.
The Customs Deputy Comptroler believes that If the importers who had imported the seized items had made honest declaration, particular, the importer of the lace material, the Team could not have had any reason to delay its release from the port, let alone seize it because it is not on the country’s list of Contraband goods. The Statement of the CGC Strike Force Coordinator was very clear: the importers creates the room for Customs to seize their goods.
Enough of the Team port operations. The Shuaibu led Team may not have given the diehard smugglers operating between Benin and Nigeria to carry out their nefarious trade a breather.
Insiders informed The Value News that the Team could achieve that much in one month because the Coordinator is usually given advance the cargo manifest which gives him an insight to what the importer had loaded into the Container. Based on the cargo manifest report, suspected Containers were said to have been detained for proper physical examination in the presence of the importer.
As way of dcongesting the ports, the 13 Containers seized from the port environment were said to have been transferred to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal for safe keeping. The Magazine learnt that the CGC Strike Force personnel are staioned already on ground at the Terminal to keep a close tab on the Containers transferred to the terminal.
Informed sources told the Magazine that the Container seizures at the lagos ports could have been more than the 13 recorded within the one month both for the END SARS protest for much of October which disrupted theiri operations. With the seizures of the Containers , for wrong Classification , false and dubious declaration to evade appropriate payment of duties, the CGC, Strike Force, Lagos Zone A, office, had sent signal to the importers with their agents and their Customs Collaborators at the ports that it is no longer going to be business as usual as the right thing must be done. He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that those who fail to comply with the extant Fiscal policies of the country would continue to have problem with the Customs. He is right. On Friday, November 13, 20, Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptrollerr, who had lead an operations in Lagos, was said to have intercepted six Containers exited from the port which are currently being detained at the Government warehouse , Ikeja. The Containers are expected to be examined and DN , issued to the guilty importer. Ever since Jack mobilized to start operations at the port environment fear has gripped the agents and the releasing officers at the port , who are described as the worse culprits.
The Customs CGC Strike Force Coordinator and his boys may not have given a breather to the smugglers operating between Benin and Nigeria to carry out their nefarious because of the loses they had experienced in the recent time. The Team eagle eyed men on the road were said to have intercepted 2,147 cartons of Cosmetics, I,185 ‘’50’’bags of the Asian country of Thailand par boiled rice, 1,320 bales of second hand clothing. This is in additionto to the different brands of vehicles intercepted by the Team anti-smuggling officers on the road. Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had banned the importation of Foreign rice and vehicles through the land borders since January 1, 2017. The Presidential order to Ali, the Customs boss, that vehicles should no longer be imported into the country through the land border as rice was outright ban , may have given the Customs Formations, both at the seaports and land borders to be vigilant in their anti-smuggling operations which has begun to yield results.
Appealing to the fraudulent importers to turn a new leaf by making genuine declarations, to ensure they pay the appropriate import duties, he opined that it is the only way the government could raise the money to provide the needed basic infrastructural facilities in the country. The government may hinged its hope of generating the more revenue to finance the 2020 budget because of the drop in in oil price in the International market due to Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of China emerged coronavirus, popular , COVID 19.
It is interesting to noee that the CGC Team recovered about N360 million lost revenue for the government through the issuance of Demand Notices, DN, on detained Containers that the ports. The amount could have entered into private pockets both for the Team intervention. Given the good work of the CGC , Strike Force, particular, the Lagos Team, Mohammed Buhari, a Brigadier General and Principal Staff Officer, PSO, TO Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, who was said to have issued the order on behalf of the Customs General announcing the dissolution of the old Team and the reconstitution of the new one last October, was said to have thrown his weight on the Lagos Team to reduce the pressure on it from powerful quarters because of its aggressive anti-smuggling drive.
. One of the Containers that was found to have contained bundles of lace material, allegedly imported from the Asian country of China by falsely declared.’’ We are here , more than determined to take the war to the war to the smugglers Camp’’, he had said.