OPERATIVES of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone ‘C’ Owerri, have intercepted five units of 40ft containerised trucks laden with five thousand and forty cartons of contraband wine and 143 jumbo bales of garments.
The Customs Area Controller, CAC, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode, said the goods have a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of N142.3 million. This is even as the CAC lamented attacks on operatives of the Service who made the seizures noting, however, that the seized cargo were safely evacuated, despite the attack.
He warned that government will not tolerate attacks on its officers who are carrying out their legitimate duty, further noting that attackers will be prosecuted and jailed.
Kayode, in a statement made available to Vanguard Maritime Report, also noted that smugglers who have altered their modus operandi since the beginning of the Joint Border Operations in August 2019 now land their imports through the seaports, but engage in ingenious concealment of offensive items coupled with under-declaration of either the volume or value.
The statement signed by the Unit Public Relations Officer, Chioma Onuoha, claimed that two of the containers which were declared as agricultural spraying machines were discovered to contain 43 jumbo bales of male and female underwear upon careful physical examination.
In the statement, the Unit Controller said: “We have two containers here laden with ladies’ and men’s underwear but declared as agricultural sprayer, whereas we have just twenty three pieces of the agricultural sprayer in the container.
The Pre-Assessment Arrival Report, PAAR, was issued and released as agricultural sprayer. Behind the first layer of agricultural sprayer machines are jumbo bales of pants and bra concealed to evade payment of duty.
Agricultural equipment has five per cent duty whereas garments attract 20 per cent duty and five per cent VAT. With the tightening of our borders it is difficult to smuggle through the border, now they have changed tactics and as they change we are steps ahead of them.”
Also, Kayode said the three containers of wine falsely declared as salt, stands seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in accordance with the extant rules.
Speaking further he said, “We have three containers declared as industrial salt and when it was examined no single bag of salt was found in it. They are laden with red grape non alcoholic champagne which is prohibited. It is non alcoholic drink falsely declared to evade payment of duty and this is contraband.
We were attacked while making the seizures and under section 159 and 165 of the CEMA if you attack an officer with harmful object you could be sentenced to death.
We are employed to do our legitimate duty and we are working for the society to see how we can protect and improve our economy.
We want people to know that under section 11 of the Customs and Excise Management Act if you interfere, hinder or obstruct officers from doing their job you are liable.
He observed that the border drill has helped in significantly reducing the spate of smuggling generally, and assured that the Unit will not relent in mopping up whatever was missed by the border drill operation.