From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Smuggled items, including nine bullet-proof Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and 11,000 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, with an approximate Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N2.02 billion, have been intercepted by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Addressing newsmen on the seizures in Lagos Thursday, the new Customs Area Controller, Compt. Aliyu Mohammed, disclosed that 28 suspects were arrested in connection with the total of 89 seizures for the period September 4 to October 3, 2018, while two bags of military uniforms were also intercepted.
The unit also recovered the sum of N220.03 million from Demand Notices (DNs) on vehicles and other general goods that had evaded full payment at sea and airports through false/under-declaration or transfer of value, bringing the approximate total to N2.24 billion.
Mohammed listed the items to include 22 exotic vehicles with an approximate DPV of N1.18 billion. These comprised four bullet-proof Lexus Jeep LX570 (2016), three bullet-proof Land Cruiser Jeeps (2016), and bullet-proof Mercedes Benz G63 (2014) and S550 (2015).
Others were three Toyota Hilux (2018), two Toyota Highlander (2018), a unit each of Toyota Rav4 (2015), Toyota Prado (2018), Toyota Land Cruiser (2016), Toyota Corolla, Toyota Fortuner (2017), Toyota Sequoia and Lexus RX 350, among others.
According to him, “while some of the vehicles were intercepted at Ogere and along Ijebu Ode Expressway in Ogun State, the bullet-proof vehicles were trailed and evacuated from some private residences at Victoria Island based on credible information.”
Also seized within the period were 11,303 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (equivalence of 18 trailers), 2,410 cartons of frozen poultry products, 853 jerry cans of vegetable oil, 245 parcels of Indian hemp, 4x40ft container of unprocessed wood, 2,017 bales of used clothing and 283 cartons of various pharmaceutical products (all without NAFDAC number).
Meanwhile, Mohammed has advised intending car buyers to verify the authenticity of the import and clearance documents with the appropriate Customs Area Controllers (CACs) at the seaports to avoid unknowingly buying smuggled vehicles with the inherent problems.
Concerned at the high prevalence of smuggling along the Idiroko corridor in spite of the quantity and frequency of seizures over the past one year, he urged the public to join the fight against smuggling, considering its economic consequences.
He noted that politicians, in their bid to buy or reward patronage with gift items ahead of the 2019 elections, were also adding to the rate of smuggling even as the end-of-year festivities approach.