The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ of Nigeria Customs Service in Owerri has appealed to Nigerians to engage in credible businesses, desist from importing contraband and pay their duties as required by law.
The Unit Controller, Compt. Kayode Olusemire, made the appeal at its Benin office on Friday while showing newsmen bullet proof vehicles and other contraband seized by the officers.
He said the appeal was necessary as the agency was more determined and equipped to arrest smugglers or business people who failed to pay duties on imported goods.
He said: “The eagle eye of customs officers are sharper and more focused to ensure that no smuggler or lawbreaker escapes their watchful eyes, but must be brought to book.”
Olusemire said that 22 brand new cars including five bullet-proof and 625 bags of 50kg foreign rice with a total Duty Paid Value of N591 million were confiscated by Benin Patrol Team, while six suspects were arrested in connection with the smuggled items.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Olusemire gave the breakdown of the seized items to include a Mack Truck conveying 350 bags of 50kg foreign rice concealed with food packs, a Toyota Hiace Bus with 25 bags of 50kg foreign rice, all with DPV of N21.61 million.
Also confiscated were an amoured Range Rover 2017 model with DPV of N10.27 million, Armoured Toyota Hilux (2018) with DPV of N95.65 million and armoured Toyota Land Cruiser (2017) valued at N81.70 million.
A Toyota Hiace Bus 2008 Model with DPV of N10.54 million, Toyota (2012) worth N7.11 million, Toyota Camry (2018) valued at N10.14 million, a Range Rover Evoque (2015) with DPV of N16.77 million, Mercedes Benz ML550 (2013) valued at N13.35 million and a Toyota 4Runner (2016) with DPV of N17.86 million were also seized.
Others are Honda Pilot (2016) with dpv of N14.84 million, Mercedes Benz (2014) worth N14.48 million and a Mercedes Benz CLA (2014) with DPV of N12.35 million.
The unit controller said it was worrisome that some people would use millions of naira to buy armoured cars or exotic cars and find it difficult to pay duties on them.
He urged importers to go to Customs’ website or offices close to them to get necessary information on what it would take and the expectation of the Customs from importers before they embarked on such businesses.
He said that non-payment of duties on imported items amounted to sabotaging efforts of government to grow the nation’s economy and huge loss to the smugglers who would forfeit their goods if confiscated.
He said: “Smugglers’ activities are inimical and a sabotage to the nation’s economy.
“People should stop wasting their money on buying exotic cars that would be seized. They should go and pay their duties to customs offices close to them. It is high time we started doing the right things in this country.”
On foreign rice, Olusemire said that the Federal Government was doing all that was necessary to encourage local production and added that the local rice were even more nutritious.
He said: “I always wonder at the desperation in bringing in foreign rice when we can patronise our people buy buying Abakilike rice, Ofada rice and other local rice in the country.”