Operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have intercepted 12 trailers of rice and 201 cartons of expired seasoning (Chicken cubes) among other contraband valued at N537million.
Acting Controller of the Unit, Hussein Ejibunu, who disclosed this while briefing journalists on the activities of the unit for the month of July in Lagos on Thursday said nine suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures.
Ejibunu described as misplaced priority by importers the use of hard-earned forex for the importation of goods that are not only dangerous for human consumption but also injurious to the nation’s economy.
Notable among items seized by the unit within the review period include 7,261 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 12 trucks load), 600 bags of basmati rice (5kg each), 34,725 liters of petroleum motor spirit (PMS), 39 bales of used clothes and 225 pieces of used tyres.
Others are 331 cartons of frozen poultry, 6 units of used imported cars, 2,634 cartons of slippers/shoes, 900 pairs of used shoes and 42 units of used motorcycles among others.
Ejibunu said the seized items recorded is a demonstration of the unit’s commitment at enforcing government’s laws and policies, which bans importation of frozen poultry products and other foreign goods aimed at safeguarding the nation’s economy as well as its citizens’ health.
“A misplaced priority as demonstrated in the use of hard-earned forex for the importation of expired seasonings (Chicken Cubes), used clothes, shoes and tyres is not only injurious to the economy, but also a despicable act by some desperate importers to make monetary gains at the detriment of other peoples’ health.
“Let me use this medium to remind you that poultry products remain a prohibited item under the import list, because of its attendant health and economic implications. It may interest you to know that the federal government in her wisdom banned the importation of poultry products so as to support the growth of our domestic poultry farms, and to protect them from foreign competition.
“Secondly, it was discovered that in the process of transporting these products, some hazardous chemicals are applied to help in preserving the products; since its frozen state of being cannot be sustained till it reaches the final consumers. This act calls for public concern as it could be a source of different ailments and diseases.
“Perhaps, there is no Nigerian family that has not been affected by either an accident caused by a substandard or used tyre, skin diseases or cancers, and many more; as a result of patronage to prohibited imported products into the country.
“While we collectively sympathize with those that are affected by this menace, we are also calling on patriotic citizens to cooperate with the Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies to stamp it out.
“You may recall that, some weeks ago, Nigerians had to pay more for premium motor spirit (PMS) amidst scarcity. Despite the fact that the federal government had subsidized the product for local consumption, many Nigerians still passed through this hardship; partly because some unscrupulous citizens choose to satisfy their egoistic desires by smuggling the products into the Republic of Benin; some of which were along the border corridors,” he said.
He added that through meticulous checks on import documents, the unit, through the issuance of demand notices to importers/agents found to have short paid their duties; recovered the sum of N24.9million as revenue.
“This amount would have been lost to some non-compliant importers/agents if not for the watchfulness and the uncompromising disposition of officers of the Unit. From the foregoing, it is evident that these dare devil smugglers are unrelenting in executing their unlawful and vile businesses.
“We are therefore soliciting for useful and timely information from patriotic Nigerians to enable us to tame smuggling. Compliant importers and agents are encouraged to sustain their compliance level, as the Unit and the Service remain resolute at facilitating legitimate trade,” he said.