By Stephen Ubanna
Smugglers who think they could take advantage of the lock down of the economy in the last five months because of the Wuhan Town In Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, TO smuggle used tyres and other types of Contraband from the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic into the Nigerian market through the south west states of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo, would be disappointed.
This is because the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C, under the close watch of Kayode Olusemire,and his men are all over the hinterland in Edo and Delta states to stop them from the illegal business. The anti-smuggling efforts of the Command appear to have started yielding results in the two states of the south-south geo-political region.
This is evident going by the different Contraband seizures which were displayed at the government warehouse, Benin city, Edo state , by the Customs Comptroller, recently. The Contraband seizures were said to have been made between March and July, 2020, an interval of for months.
Eyewitness account said one of the Contrband items displayed by the Comptroller to Journalists were used killer tyres, numbering over 7,00 pieces. He was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that they are in the south east to Compliment the efforts of the officers at the Lagos ports and the FOU, Zone A, Ikeja , officers. He was emphatic: we are on the trail of the smugglers to ensure that any illegal route they may want to pass we will get them.
This may have informed why the Command had seized the thousands of pieces of the Contraband killer ttyres.Appealing to Nigerians not to patronise the killer Used tyre dealers, tOlusemire said ‘’it is the only way to reduce accidents on Nigeria roads’’. He is right.
Most of the accidents that had occurred on Nigerian roads over the last couple of years and now had been traced to the used tyres by the Federal Roads Safety Commission, FRSC.
More revealing was the seizure of 11 exotic vehicles by the Benin Outstation of the Command within the four months . These vehicles that were said to have fallen into the waiting hands of the Olusemire’s men on the road in Edo and Delta states were said to be the ones whose importers had engaged the services of smugglers.
The smugglers were said to have beaten the tight security mounted by the FOU, Zone A, Border Drills sector 1, Comptroller General of Customs and the CGC, Strike Force including the Land Border Commands Patrol teams on the road in the south west.
Some of the vehicles were said to have been Assembled in 2019, giving an insider information that the importers must be very rich. An aggrieved Area Comptroller had wondered how someone who could cough out millions of naira to import a 2019 Assembled Jeep but would not want to pay duty on it.
Recall that Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, had provided a window last December for owners of intercepted and detained vehicles at various Customs formations across the country to take delivery of it by paying the relevant duties and 25 surcharges.
Th Customs Comptroller General had set sup Committees to handle the assignment at the FOUs across the country. Many of the smugglers whose vehicles were intercepted and detained at the various Customs Formantions were said to have taken advantage of the window to take delivery of their vehicles.
Luck appear to have ran out of those who could not not take delivery of their own detained vehicles as at February, 2020, as it was terminated. This is an indication that the owners of the II intercepted exotic and detained vehicles in government warehouse , Benin city, Edo, would be turned in to outright seizure. Bad news to the owners to the smuggled vehicle owners.
With the Contraband seizures, the FOU Zone C, Comptroller has assured Nigerians that ”the service will not relent in its fight in going after the smugglers to smoke them out from their hideout in the hinterland in Edo and Delta states and other states under the Command ‘s Jurisdiction’’.
Also seized by the Command were 200 bales of second hand clothing, which were said to have been imported from the Asian country of China, where the coronavirus, popular COVID 19, had emerged . Given the Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the seized Contraband and exotic vehicles, the FOU, Customs boss said it was over N 351 million.
Investigations by The Value News shows that the Contraband and exotic vehicle seizures were made when Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, who had been redeployed to FOU, Zone A, was the Command’s Head of the Operations Unit.
Apart from the Command intensifying the anti-smuggling war in Edo and Delta states, in the last two weeks, the Command Patrol Team officers were said to have made foreign par boiled rice seizures in Abia and Imo states worth about 90 million, confirming what the Customs Comptroller had said ”that wherever the smugglers pass, they will get them”.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had banned the importation of foreign parboiled rice and vehicles from the land borders on January 1, 2017. The Katsina born Nigerian President may have taken the decision to boost local rice production and patronage of Nigerian ports .
The government may have extended the ban on foreign rice imports into the country through the ports to show that it meant business.
It is not surprising why foreign parboiled rice or or vehicle alleged to have been smuggled from Benin Republic, sighted in any part of the south east or south geopolitical region, it are seized without Compromise.