The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘C’, Owerri said it made a seizure of 17 prohibited items and 21 underpayments recovering of N194.65 million in January.
The Customs Area Controller of the Unit, Comptroller Mohammed Garba made this known in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the unit, Ifeoma Onuigbo.
Garba said that the figure was a combination of an overall Duty Paid Value of N122. 28 million and a recovered underpayment of N72.37 million.
He said that the seizure demonstrated the determination of customs to stamp out the tide of smuggling of contraband goods into the country.
Garba said that 18 suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures which took place along Owerri, Benin, Enugu and Calabar axis.
Giving the break down, he said that nine vehicles worth N35.90 million were confiscated with 382 pieces of foreign smuggled used tyres valued at N6.288 million and 3,077 bags of 50kg foreign rice estimated at N80.09 million.
Garba said that aside the dangers on consumption of the items, rice smuggling had the capacity to depress the nation’s economy.
“Smuggling also reduces government’s revenue, stifles domestic rice industries, in addition to distorting supply and consumption data usually applied by the government as references for sound policy planning,’’ he said.
The area controller also justified government’s ban on used tyres, stressing that such items from the more advanced nations of the world were compressed and discarded for use in their countries.
He warned those who were still trapped in the illicit business of smuggling in spite of the obvious implications to purge themselves from such acts in the interest of the nation.
He said that the use of imported second hand tyres had continued to wreck havoc on the nation’s highway with many lives lost and others seriously injured.
Garba advised member of the public with unquenchable appetite, interest and desire for foreign prohibited materials to purge themselves of it in their own interest, regretting that many families had been ruined as a result of this.
He made it clear that the NCS would ever remain steadfast and sincere in its resolution to ensure that no prohibited item got across the nation’s borders.
He assured that the service was now more than ever fortified, trained, mobilised and motivated to meet its challenges.
He appealed to members of the public with classified information about smugglers, their collaborators and agents to always make such information available to officers and men of the service for necessary action.
The area controller said the NCS was not interested in witch-hunting or victimising anybody, group or association who were into legitimate business of importing and exporting.