The doggedness of operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘C’ Owerri, covering the Benin axis, has continued to pay off with seizures of 10,080 pieces of used tyres, 205 bales of second hand clothing, used bags, rubber slippers and exotic cars amongst others, with duty paid value of N351,404,000.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Olusemire Kayode, made this disclosure at a press briefing in Edo State on Friday.
Kayode said patrol teams covering the axis made an avalanche of seizures from March to date along Benin-Shagamu Expressway and along Oluku, Ondo State.
The seizures, he said, have been deposited at government warehouse Aduwawa, Benin, Edo State.
He praised the tenacity of his officers in thwarting the activities of smugglers in the area known for high smuggling activities into the South East and South South, adding that their hard work complements the efforts of officers at the port and neighbouring zones.
He explained that the Unit is witnessing a gradual rise in smuggling of tyres and other commodities as against rice as the war on rice smuggling has been yielding the desired results.
Kayode said: “We have a container from Lagos carrying these tyres.
“They were able to evade the eagle eye of officers on the road, but when they entered our zone, we picked it up.
“We have 7,120 pieces of used tyres in the container.
“We have 205 bales of second hand clothing.
“We have rubber slippers.
“You name it, we have virtually all things.
“Look at the number of cars we have picked up.
“Smugglers have devised so many means to evade detection, but it is already known to them that the service is ready and we are on their tail, anywhere they pass through we will catch up with them.
“If they beat detection at Idiroko, beat Seme, even beat detection from Apapa or Tincan, we are there manning the flank for them and we will still pick them up.”
Kayode added that 2,960 pieces of used tyres were also seized in a separate bust, warning that the Federal Road Safety Corps has attributed 44 per cent of road traffic accidents to the use of second-hand tyres and urged motorists to listen to the advocacy and pleas of the government and buy new tyres for their vehicles.
While displaying high end cars seized in the Benin axis, Comptroller Kayode said the daredevil smugglers of one of the cars tried to evade detection by using a police spy plate number, which on inspection was found to be fake.
He also strongly condemned the importation of second-hand clothes, bags, rubber slippers and other prohibited items, saying they were classified as absolute prohibitions by the Federal Government because such items endanger and negatively exploit the health and safety of our nation.
He said: “We have over five brand new vehicles 2019 model.
“I wonder why someone will bring in 2019 vehicle and not pay duty on it.
“If you can afford to buy a 2019 brand new vehicle, why can’t you endeavour to pay duty on them instead of smuggling it?
“Rubber slippers can be manufactured in Nigeria.
“If you go to Aba, they are manufacturing rubber slippers and bags.
“So why would someone go to China and bring in rubber slippers and used bags for ladies?
“We should discourage ourselves from these and learn the habit of using what we produce in Nigeria.”
Kayode called on smugglers not to contribute to the death of the economy and urged Nigerians to contribute to the growth of the economy by engaging in legitimate trade and business endeavours.
He said: “When you get to the port, pay your duty.
:When you are making your declaration, declare what you are carrying.
“Make sure you declare what you have.
“Open Form M for whatever you know you are bringing into the country.
“We should stop doing things that are inimical to our health and health of the country.”
Kayode advised that Nigerians should not harass officers in the discharge of their legitimate duties.