Customs Strike Force generates N1.1bn from under-payments

From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

The Comptroller-General of Customs Strike Force in Zone ‘A’ said it raised a Debit Note (DN) of about N1.1 billion between January 1 and June 11, 2020.

According to Assistant Comptroller Abba Kakudi, the coordinator of the unit which covers the six area commands in South-West Nigeria, the sum was recovered from cargoes seized after they were found to have not paid their rightful duties at the ports.

In a statement, Kakudi said noted that the seizures were in spite of the lull in import business occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that in the past two weeks, the unit had battled down desperate smugglers as they continued to sabotage the nation’s economy.

“Our seizures include 1000 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, with the Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N13.252 million, 10 imported used vehicles with DPV N31.184 million, and 30 bales of second-hand clothing with DPV of N2.160 million,” he explained.

“It is important to say that in order to help the economy to grow, there is no need to import what we can produce here in Nigeria or bring in prohibited items.”

He insisted that government has encouraged a lot of rice farmers in the country, who now produce in large quantity brands that are even healthier than foreign rice. He urged traders to market the indigenous brands to grow the economy maximally.

Recounting the customs agents’ ordeal in the struggle to combat illegal import, Kakudi said that “in a bid to police the smugglers from bringing in these prohibited products, our officers face a lot of dangers, as most of the smugglers are armed, sometimes not necessarily with rifles but matches, charms and other dangerous weapons. But we are not overwhelmed.

“This ugly situation is experienced more around the creaks where inhabitants mobilise some under-aged people against us, to the extent of calling us names, and some stoning us, all in a bid to make seizures.”

Appealing to those who see smuggling as lucrative to desist from it, and importers and agents to stop aiding it, he warned that customs officers are always a step ahead in strategies, just as smuggling, as a form of economic sabotage, cannot be the best means of livelihood due to the inherent losses and dangers, including possible loss of lives.

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