By Godfrey Bivbere & Eguono Odjegba
FOLLOWING Comptroller-General of Customs,’ CGC, directives to various formations of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to rid warehouses and markets across the South-West of smuggled foreign rice and contrabands smuggled into the country, the CGC Strike Force has seized 1,930 bags of 50kg smuggled rice evacuated from various warehouses in Lagos and Ogun states.
The co-ordinator of the Strike Force, Zone A, Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu, said the directive was aimed at boosting local production of rice in the country.
Shuaibu who lamented the high rate of false declaration of imports aimed at evading Customs duty and levy, said the unit generated N708millon in the last two weeks.
According to him, 1,227 rolls of chiffon textiles materials, 18 pallets of perfumes, cosmetics and bags, 2,064 cartons of electric bulbs as well as 1,810 cartons of alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines were seized and will be forfeited to the Federal Government.
He stated further that due to the heat from the unit, smugglers have found it difficult to move smuggled foreign rice from the border in large quantity but in batches through motorcycles also known as Okada but, we have restricted them and stopped their operations.”
Speaking on infractions, the strike force coordinator said: “We have various degrees of infractions on cargoes that were seized. Cargoes such as perfumes, non-alcoholic wines, electric bulbs, foot wears, bags and shoes that were falsely declared as machineries and washing machine.
“Perfumes, non-alcoholic wines, electric bulbs, textiles are dutiable but foreign footwears, bags are banned because we have factories investing heavily and employing Nigerians to produce so, we must encourage them to do more and must not discourage them through importation of those items into the country.”
Shuaibu further stated that the falsely declared cargoes have been seized out-rightly and will be forfeited to the government.
According to him, “We are still appealing to our stakeholders that they should work hand in hand to ensure proper declaration and they should join hands and change their habit. Perfume is dutiable but once it is falsely declared it is liable to seizure. Also, non-alcoholic wines are liable to seizure, we have factories that produce wines so, we should patronise them to boost the economy.
“Chiffon materials brought in as sealing machines when we have textiles companies all around the country closing down but, we will plead for genuine declaration and patriotism though, it was dutiable but because it was falsely declared, it remained seized.”