By Nwangwu Uba
Until last Friday, March 29, 2019, when Abdullahi Dahiru Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller and National Coordinator, Headquarters Strike Force, HSF opened the Government warehouse, Ikeja,
Kirawa, had ordered the ”40” Containers suspected to be carrying Contrabands released from the ports which was intercepted by the Lagos Zonal Command, of the HSF, under the Command of Salisu Shuaibu, an Assistant Comptroller, to Journalists. The suspected ”4”’ Containerised cargoes were said to have been intercepted and transferred to the GWH, Ikeja, controlled by the Federal Operations Unit, FOU , Zone A, Ikeje, for safekeeping.
One of such Containers, with No. GESU562z54/7,
Unknown to them, information had leaked to Shuaibu, the Command of the Lagos Command, HSF, through his informants at the port, forcing him to deploy a patrol team to the port axis. The patrol team officers were said to have been stationed at strategic locations along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway to ensure that the Agent who had cleared the Consignment would have no escape route. The good news was that that the team had their
Another ”40” Container , No. CSU875914/3, that was said to have said to have been intercepted and subsequently seized by the Lagos Zonal Command of Strike Force which Seal was broken to know what it was carrying was stocked with 77 bales of new jeans, 16 bales of ladies belt, 12 bales of T-Shirts and 17 bales of ladies handbags which was valued at about N N38.77 million. These may not hzve
The third ”40” Container was found to have been loaded with second hand clothing . The Container, according to Kirawa, carried bales of second hand clothing with a Duty Paid Value , DPV, of N25.4million. This is in addition to a ”40” Container No. MRSU3511618/9 carrying 150 packages of Jewelries value at about N36. 48 million. the items, according Kirawa, the HSF, National Coordinator, had been falsely declared . He noted that these importers have no reason to make underpayment because the CEMA Act was very explicit on the duty to be paid on the items.
Note that the ”40” Containerised load of foreign parboiled rice may have been seized by the HSF, Lagos Zonal Command, because of the extant government policy on the importation of rice into the country . Although, the government had not have officially banned the importation of rice through the seaport but it had stopped issuing Letters of Credit ,LC, to such importers since June , 2018, fueling speculation that it had been tactically banned as a way of protecting local rice farmers .
Recall, that President Muhammadu Buhari, had in 2017, banned the importation of foreign parboiled rice through the nation’s land borders in the south and the north but technically still allowed it to be imported through the seaport if the dealer could source his own foreign exchange from unofficial sources to do so. It was not encouraging as many of them were forced to relocate to Republic of Benin and other ports in the West African sub-region to take delivery of their rice imports..
Aware that there is no way they could compromise Customs personnel at the land Border Areas to take delivery of their Contraband , they have no option but toresort to smuggling through unapproved routes in the north and the southern part of the country because of the porous Borders. Take for instance, in Adamawa state alone, there about 83 unapproved routes going by Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, records, used by smugglers and human traffickers to carry out their nefarious activities.
The situation was the same in Ogun state, south-west geo-political region where there are about identified 84 illegal routes that are used by these hoodlums in carrying out their nefarious trade. An angry Kirawa who opened the GWH, at Ikeja, showcased the quanties of the foreign parboiled rice seized by the Lagos Command of the Strike Force through the Land Border between January and March 28, 2019, Giving an insider information , he disclosed that 6,102 50 Kg bags of foreign parboiled rice was seized from smugglers through these illegal routes at the land Border, The value of the rice seizures , he said , was put at about N85.428 million. Also within the same period the Zonal Command of the Strike, was said to have made a seizure of 50 litres of processed vegetable oil through the land Border in the south west valued at about N5 million.
the smugglers who are devising new tricks of beating Customs to it with their smuggled goods were said to have have fallen into the waiting hands of Shuaibu’s boys on the road with their truck loaded with pneumatic tyres concealed with empty Nigerian Breweries and other companies beer crates. It could only take the intelligence of an officer to suspect such a truck because of the way the items were loaded in the truck .” The value of the pneumatic tyres run into millions of naira”, Kirawa had said.
The most touchy of seized items was a MAN Diesel Truck. The truck was said to have been intercepted within Atam and Idiroko axis of Ogun state, under the control of Michael Agbara, the AArea Comptroller. The importer may have opted to use the services of crossers to to evade payment of duty but fail into the waiting hands of Kirawa’s boys on the road. The Value News learnt that the truck was dutiable .
The next item on the list of listed seized vehicles by the HSF, Lagos Command, Kirawa had shown to Journalists was a, Toyota Avolon that was intercepted was said to have been intercepted in the jungle around Atam and Idiroko axis. It was gathered that the HSTF, patrol team, that had cited the vehicle had pursued the paid Crosser who increased his speed to beat the HSF patrol team officers to it but had had had with it ,forcing him to abandon the vehicle and flee to escape arrest and possible prosecution in Court. The Value News cited the vehicle at the FOU, Zone A, Mechanical Workshop, turned GWH, used for keeping of seized Containers and vehicles
Appealing to the general public to collaborate with the Customs personnel by volunteering valuable information that could lead to the arrest of these hoodlums in the hideouts, the Customs Deputy Comptroller said , it is the only way that fight against smugglers who are sabotaging the nation’s economy could make the appreciable impact.
Already, he has sent a signal to the smugglers to” turn a leaf or be forced to change”. t He stressed that ”not only did Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service, NCS”, mandate them to suppress smuggling activities in the land Border areas but they have a mandate to also intercept and seize Containerised cargoes of Contrabands released from the seaports on account of false declaration.
It was therefore not surprising why the Lagos Zonal Command, of the Strike Force, has continued to make seizures of Containerised cargoes on account of” false declaration”.