The Value News

Customs: South West Smugglers and Fraudulent Lagos ports Based Importers And Agents Hit Roadblock

Stephen Ubanna

 

 Unrepentant smugglers in the south west states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo and Fraudulent agents at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT PhasesI&&II, would never forget Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller and acting Area Comptroller, Federal Operations ,Zone A,  Ikeja, Lagos ,in hurry 2020.

 This is because of the bold  anti-smuggling   strategies initiated during the year  which caught many of the Ogun and Oyo  state based foreign rice and vehicle smugglers operating Nigerian and Benin Republic unawares. The resultant  effect was that may of the smugglers lost thousands of bags of foreign par boiled rice , worth millions of naira  including vehicles to Yahaya’s men  who  were strategically positioned  at the various  south west states Border Communities, using the services of informants.

A Statement by Theophilus Duniya, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the Command  Spokesperson  , confirmed  that Command   impounded  31,129 bags of the Asian country of Thailand par-boiled rice, of 5Kg each, which was bad news to the foreign importers  using Benin port, Cotonou and Bollore port, in Benin Republic to take delivery of their bulk cargo imports which included rice.

Fairely Used Vehicles Intercepted By FOU, Zone A, Operations & Lagos Roving , In 2020

Within the period under review, the Yahaya anti-smuggling officers , spread throughout the six south west states  of the Federation  were said to have also intercepted  9,801 Kegs of 25 litres each of Vegetable Oil,  1,290 cartons , of poultry products, and 3,526 Kg. of the West African country of Ghana grown India hemp,  This is in addition  to 560 units  of used vehicles. Recall that 34 of the 560 used vehicles, were made one single operations  at  Ido-Eruwa road, Ibadan, Oyo state Capital  led by Jack,Okpabi, Assistant Comptroller tbased on credible information. The Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the 34 vehicles, was put at about 10 billion alone.

This is in addition to 24,612 pieces  of used tyres and several other Contrabands  smuggled, into the country from the West African country of Benin Republic.  Valuation experts had put the total DPV, of ALL the seized goods  from the smugglers at about N21 billion.

It is instructive to note that not all transit goods are treated as Contrband and subsequently delayed from reaching the importer’s destination on schedule . That much was confirmed by Yhaya, the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller. He had said that ‘’no Consignment  or goods on transit  can be unjustifiably delayed on the road by the officers  when they Complied with  the extant guidelines  on the procedure of imports and exports clearance. He may have gladdened the heart of importers with their Clearing agents when he said that the Command   personnel   are ‘’totally  Committed  to  the  course  of facilitating legitimate trade’’.

Perhaps, one group that would never forget the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team, headed by Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptroller, who replaced Riks Lura, a Chief of Superintendent of Customs , now retired are the Lagos based fraudulent importers with their agents and Customs Collaborators. Lura, was said to have laid a solid Foundation for  Assistant Comptroller Jack and the Team members to follow. They were said to have cashed to intercept  more Conttainerised cargoes released from the Lagos ports. Informed sources told The Value News that most of the  Containers load of goods were intercepted between the ports the bonded terminals  in different parts of Lagos  over alleged under declaration, Concealment , Wrong Classification and underpayment and subsequently transferred to the Command premises at Ikeja, for re-examination.

Yahaya: Acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A

The Value News Magazine gathered that based on the findings and reports  of the examination officers, on the reexamined Container, the files are sent to the Valuation officers  to do their valuation which must be sent the Area Comptroller for final approval. Duniya, the Command, spokesperson had said that the guilty importers with their agents were issued Demand Notice , DN, running into millions of naira, which was a fallout of their underpayment. He had said that the Command had recovered the sum of 1.75 billion  from the fraudulent importers. This money that should have entered into private accounts  but for the interventions of the Yahaya’s Operations and Lagos Roving Team officers , who had beamed their searchlight  on the activities at the Lagos seaports and bonded terminals.

The situation was not different from the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force , Team A, Lagos, which has Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller as the Coordinator. The Workaholic , CGC Strike Force, Team A, boss,  late last year  that between January  and December 15, 2020, the Team had recovered  N2.554 billion lost revenue for the government from fraudulent importers, meaning that if the Team, had waited till December 31, 2020, before making its final calculation on the recovered revenue , it could have been more than the current figure.

DCShuaibu: Coordinator, CGC, Strike Force, Tean A, Recovers Billions Of Lost Revenue For Governmnt In 2020

 The Team could recover that much for the government within the period because the Information Communication Technology , ICT, officers attached to the Team , have at their  finger- tips every  information on Containers coming into the Lagos port from Asia, particular, China, Europe and the North American country of the Unites, US, and their contents. This may have informed why they knew the importers that had made false declaration and underpayment to recommend it to Coordinator for detention  and DN, issued to the importer to pay the outstanding bill.  

The Magazine gather gathered the CGC Team A, Coordinator,  had  repeatedly held talks the Apapa Customs Command  APM and the Deputy Comptrollers overseeing Valuation, Vehicle Seat and Heads of Units and terminal Heads at the Command including, the Assistant Comptrollers , who are the releasing officers and officers in-charge of the exit gates to ensure that the right things are done to avoid running into trouble. He could  do  that because of the information available to him which shows that there are many things wrong at the Comptroller  Mohammed Abba- Kura, controlled  Command, which needed to be put right.

A senior Customs officer who spoke to The Magazine that since shuaibu, the CGC, Team A, started holding talks with the Apapa Command  officers, it has begun to yield fruit as the officers have taken up  with importers with their agents, insiting that the right thing must be done, which had increased the level of Compliance to the extant import and export procedures.           

Stephen Ubanna

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