Customs Strikeforce recovers N1.03bn from under-declared imports in Q1
… Says smugglers now use donkeys, camels for smuggling
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Strike Force Unit said it has recovered about N1.03billion from debit notes raised on imports that were falsely or underdeclared by their owners in the last three months.
Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday, Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu, the officer in charge of the unit, said the amount generated would have been lost to smugglers, fraudulent importers and clearing agents who under-declare their cargoes at ports.
He further said that the unit in the last three months intercepted foreign parboiled rice, printed label materials, used vehicles, textiles material, used tyres, and second-hand clothing. He however charged importers involved in false and under-declaration of goods to turn a new leave.
“The essence of raising alerts on consignments is to raise debit notes on goods, whose owners tried to shortchange the government. These were cargoes that exited Tin-can Island and Apapa Ports with major and minor infractions,” he explained.
Shuaibu, who also raised alarm on the new methods used by smugglers to bring in contraband especially rice into the country, said smugglers now endanger the lives of Nigerians by using car booths, fuel compartment, tyres, vehicle engines among others to convey smuggled rice.
According to him, rice smuggled in these manners is regarded as hazardous items when seized.
Corroborating this, Joseph Attah, national public relations officer of the Service, said the over N1 billion recovered by Strikeforce in the first quarter, has justified the creation of the Unit.
“We have suppressed smuggling to the extent that they no longer make use of big trucks, vehicles, motorcycles to smuggle anymore. They now make use of camels, cattle, and donkeys to move them in trickles,” he added.
Citing an example, he said: “Three wonder cars were reconstructed for the purpose of smuggling. They were reconstructed to get as much rice as possible, but smugglers can no longer use them because it is becoming difficult due to the anti-smuggling drives of our officers.”