The Value News

Customs: FOU, Zone A, Hit Hard On Fraudulent Importers With Their Agents And Smugglers

By Stephen Ubanna

When The Value news visited the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, penultimate Wednesday and cited two bullet proof  and other exotic vehicles, at the Command premises, the Magazine became convinced that the anti-smugglingd has bounced back to life.

The anti-smuggling drive in the Command appears to have slumped in the last couple of months due to the Wuhan Town in Hbei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19.

The situation was made worse with the establishment of Special Weapons Anti-Tactical Team, SWAT,  headed by one  Ogan, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, now on a Special Course at  the Customs Training Colledge , Gwagwalada, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, by Usman Yahaya, the Command acting Comptroller.

Until the establishment of the SWAT, the Lagos Roving Team, headed by Riks Lura, a CSC, was said to have  been instrumental in making  spectacular seizures in the Command ranging from  pangolin Scales, exotic Units of vehicles to bullet proof .

Indeed, the Team, alone  was said to have made 147 sacks  of Pangolin Scales valued at about N10.4 billion l allegedly loaded into two ‘’20’’ Containers for export to China last February .

It was  one of the major seizures that had been made by the Command under the acting Comptroller Yahaya, which had attracted  Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and the Customs Comptroller General to the Command to  showcase the  seizure and other items worth several billions of naira to the press.

 The Pangolin Scales seizures was said to have  boosted  Yahaya’s profile in Customs circles.  The N10.4 billion Pangolin Scales seizure  was to  have boosted the revenue generation of the Command on intercepted Contraband and the Debit  Notes issued fraudulent importers from the Contraventions arising from  wrong Classifications to N17 billion in six months.

Given a breakdown of the revenue profile ,Yahaya, the Command acting Comptroller, had said that N15.6 billion came  from seized Contraband from smugglers while  N1.4 billion  were raised from wrong Classification , transfer of value and  false declaration of cargoes by importers with their agents.

With the spectacular seizures of Contraband made by the Command in the last six months, particular, the multi-billion naira Pangolin Scales which had forced many smugglers undrground and out of the illegal business in the south west geo-political region, many believe that the Command still have much to do in the Customs anti-smuggling war.

The total quantities of foreign par boiled rice that had been seized by the FOU, Zone C, at the Edo state  axis in the last six months speaks volume.

Intercepted Vegetable Oil By FOU, Zone A

 But a Statement by Jerry Attah, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs and the Command Spokesperson, however, shows that the Command intercepted  18,760 ‘’50’’ bags of foreign par boiled rice worth about N470 million and other Contraband  smuggled into the country,   from the neighbouring  West African country of Benin Republic.

Attah had said that 64 Units of exotic  vehicles including two bullet proof were also intercepted from the smugglers.  The vehicles were said to have been detained  over alleged duty invasion and under –payment .

  Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had  banned the importation of Foreign par boiled rice and vehicles  through the Land border on January 1, 2017 . The ban on the importation of foreign par boiled  rice and vehicles through the land border  may have given a major boost to local rice production and improved patronage of Nigerian ports respectively. This is evident by the flooding of the Nigerian market with locally produced rice. Moreso, the number of RORO vehicles that call at Tin-can Island port on a weekly basis since the policy was taken has been on the increase.

In spite of the seizures of these multi-million foreign parboiled rice and Units of exotic vehicles, the Benin based smugglers and their Nigerian Collaborators appear to have given the Yahaya boys  more job to do The interception of  1,138 Kg of Indian Hemp, allegedly grown from   Ghana, valued at about N20 million bear eloquent testimony to the Command renewed anti-smuggling drive which had hit hard on the smugglers , forcing many to cry out as they continue to lose their goods to the government.

The smugglers were said to have also lost 3,059 cartons of tomanto paste,  5,423, jerry cans of 25 litres each of Vegetable oil, 56, 427  bundles of printed Textile materials  valued at about N570 million, 66 sacks of Tramadol, 872 bales of second hand clothing worth N61 million11,077 cartons of poultry products worth abouth N177 million.

Concealed Second Hand Tyres In An Intercepted ’20” Container By FO, Zone A

In addition, the Command was said to have   intercepted 7, 549 Jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, popular, Petrol, valued at about n27 million. Much of the Jerry cans of 25 litres of petrol each were said to have been made by  the Gbaji check point Team led by Jack Okpabi, a CSC. One of the major petrol seizures was said to have been made  by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Commission but evacuated to the Government warehouse, Ikeja, by the Jack led Team, from the Badagry Creek , regarded in Customs circles as Point of no return on information.  

Attah Statement  further showed that acting Comptroller Yahaya in the last six months  intercepted  five Containers load of banned Pharmaceutical products  released from the Lagos ports .  Yahaya, who is not happy hat importers are losing their goods and vehicles which they had spent millions of naira to buy by engaging the services of smugglers has cautioned them to embrace legitimate trade as the Unit is out to send them out of the illegitimate business

.”My message to the  smugglers  is that they should stop smuggling and embrace legitimate business because the Unit is ready to run them out of the illegitimate business’’, he warned. He may have gladdened the heart of the Customs Authorities  when he  disclosed ‘’we are always  a step ahead of the smugglers  through intelligence gathering and steadfastness’’. 

He was said to have told those that cares to listen that they will never get tired of pursuing the smugglers to their hideouts until the Service  suppressed smuggling  finally from the south west  geopolitical region.

Many believe that anti-smuggling operations in the south west will be given a major boost with the re-deployment of Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller in -charge of Operations at FOUC, Zone C, Owerri, Imo state.

Until his re-deployment to FOU , Zone A, where he has resumed, he was instrumental in making a seizure of a vehile loaded with cateridges and a Tiper load of rice. Agents who spoke to the Magazine describe his redeployment to FOU Zone A, as a big gain but a loss to FOU, Zone C.  

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Stephen Ubanna

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