Chedi Wada, Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit Zone “B”, Kaduna, has lamented that smugglers have been using fake presidential number plates to deliver vehicles across the country.
According to the Comptroller, the smugglers have also been using plate numbers of other states and VIPs.
Wada said they include those of various state and local governments; Ministries, Departments and Agencies; Emirate Councils; and other governmental institutions.
Wada disclosed this when he received Bashir Rabe-Mani, Zonal Manager, News Agency of Nigeria, Kaduna Zonal Office, who paid him a courtesy call in Kaduna.
He said: “Customs will not relent and will continue to do its best by not allowing smugglers to use the old tactics of using the presidential number plates and other governmental institutions to smuggle luxurious vehicles into the country.
“This is one of the menaces we are having.
“It is saddening how vehicle smugglers are ridiculing the apex seat in the country by using presidential fake plate numbers, using them on newly smuggled cars to deceive customs.”
According to Wada, Customs officers are well trained personnel and can easily identify fake numbers and cannot be outsmarted by the old tricks.
The Comptroller said: “We are not happy with them.
“It is too bad for them to be playing with the Presidency.
“That’s why we always put a heavy hammer on those using the Presidency on false instances on smuggled vehicles.
“Let them respect the Presidency.
“We must respect the Presidency.
“That is leadership.”
Wada also disclosed that they have impounded lots of such vehicles with fake number plates, including those of local governments, ministries and government institutions.
He said that the service was saddled with the responsibility of suppressing anti-smuggling activities, revenue and trade facilitation, while implementing other governmental policies.
The Comptroller said the Service was committed to saving Nigeria’s economy by bringing smugglers down to the ground through the suppression of their activities.
Wada said that the media has been assisting them in extending what they were doing to the public, adding: “Many people do not understand how the rules of the Customs are and why certain actions are taken.
“Some will say Customs will come to their houses to take contraband, but all this will be amplified through the media on what the rules and regulations are.
“According to the Act of Customs, on getting an intelligence, Customs can enter the premises and take contraband away, possibly arrest and prosecute.
“People expect customs to notify them of any planned seizure at their houses or shops or arrest.
“If I inform you that I am coming, what stops you from taking away the exhibit?”
Wada said since his assumption of duty in the zone six weeks ago, they have made a lot of impact, including seizure of various items.
While noting that the system is working, he added that they undertake investigations depending on what was obtained and possible prosecution.
The Comptroller further called on Nigerians to be interested in the job of the Customs and know what was happening in the service in all areas, including its social media platforms.
Wada also appreciated the NAN ZM for the visit while assuring him of his continuous collaboration with the press and the agency.
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Earlier in his remarks, Rabe-Mani said the visit was aimed at improving the already existing relationship between NAN and NCS.
Rabe-Mani also sought for continuous collaboration to ensure that smuggling and other nefarious acts of economic sabotage within the zone were successfully suppressed.