The Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says the unit through the Federal High Court has secured eight convictions of suspected smugglers involved in various smuggling offences within the last 10 months.
Acting Controller of the Unit, Kehinde Ejibunu, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday said 48 different cases are at various stages of prosecution.
Ejibunu said the unit also arrested 10 suspects in connection with seizures of different smuggled items with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N746million in the month of April.
The items seized include 8,309 bags of foreign parboiled rice (50kg each) equivalent to 14 trailer loads, 2,428 X 25 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS), 221 cartons of foreign frozen poultry and 486 parcels (262kg) of Indian hemp.
Others are 4 units of foreign used vehicles, 111 pieces of used tyres,10 bales of used clothing and 8 sacks of used shoes.
The Customs boss added that the unit in its quest to prevent revenue loss through various infractions such as; under-valuation, under-payments, and wrong classification, the sum N66.7million was collected following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters.
“While the smugglers planned to take us unaware during the religious festivities, our round-the-clock patrols were sustained and backed with intelligence even during the public holidays. Interestingly, the outcome of our unrelenting onslaught against smuggling is the remarkable drop evident in the number of seizures recorded with zero casualties.
Ejibunu warned that smuggling is not a business, but a crime hence, the unit’s resolve to protect the Nigerian economy will continue to be passionately pursued, while the fight against economic saboteurs will remain at the front burner.
“We want to reiterate that it pays for importers, exporters, haulage operators, and their agents to operate within the ambit of the law because doing otherwise places them at risk of losing their investments and facing prosecution as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
“The perpetrators of these criminal activities are not unaware of what the law says because we have taken enlightenment to them through different ways, including enlisting assistance of traditional rulers, community leaders and the media.
“Thus, anyone that puts in his savings or obtains a loan to invest in any illegitimate business will have to contend with the attendant consequences of such choices, when the law will take its natural course.
“No matter the mouth-watering returns people expect to make from smuggling, they should have it at the back of their minds that they stand the risk of losing their investment, prosecuted and jailed,” he said.
Ejibunu expressed appreciation to the Customs management team saying that the,“successes recorded by the Unit in the suppression of desperate measures for economic criminality would not have been possible without the deployment of logistics support provided by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, (Rtd) CFR, and his management team in the battle to protect our national economic interest.”