As yuletide approaches with massive importation and smuggling through the Lagos seaports and land borders, the Comptroller General of Customs, Strike Force has intercepted contrabands and raised Debit Notes (DN) on under-declaration of cargoes worth N767million.
While the contrabands were goods smuggled into the country from neigbouring Benin Republic, the DN raised were from 13 containers falsely and under declared at the nation’s seaports in the last three weeks.
Unveiling the seizure recently, the co-ordinator, CGC’s Strike Force, Zone A, Lagos, Deputy Compt. Ahmadu Bello Shuaibu, said while N350million were raised from DN in cargoes from Tincan and Apapa seaports, N417million were Duty Paid Value (DPV) of contraband smuggled into the country from neigbouring countries.
According to him, 2,147 cartons of cosmetics, vehicles of different models, 1,185 bags of smuggled rice, 1,320 bales of textiles materials falsely declared as machinery were seized in the weeks under review.
“These are some of our anti-smuggling effort. We have containers loaded with footwear and we know shoe is a contraband and these particular goods are falsely declared and by our statue book, classified foot wears are contrabands, ” he said.
He added: “The Duty Paid Value of 935 Cartons of shoes is N32million and from the ICT section, the intervention we have made so far are on 13 containers of various items that are contraband as well as falsely declared worth over N350m.
“Also, we intercepted 756 bales of lace materials with DPV of N34million and the reason for seizure was that they were falsely declared as machinery. If the declaration had been honest, we wouldn’t have seized such consignment because it isn’t on the contraband list.”
Shuaibu however advised smugglers to desist from unlawful practice while advising importers and clearing agents to embrace honest declaration.
His words: “We want honest declaration. Importers and agents should help the government by making accurate declaration so that the right duty is collected for the benefit of all because no need for seizure if they had made open declaration and paid duty correctly.”
Also speaking, the National Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Deputy Comptroller, Joseph Attah, said the interception of contrabands and DN of N767million raised in last three weeks have explained the relevance of the strike force team to the Nigerian economy.
Attah said: “Smuggling is not only for someone who brought in arms, ammunition, cocaine or someone who followed unapproved routes but someone who brought in imported dutiable items but chose to evade customs duty. The idea for false declaration is to evade appropriate payment of duty.
“Lace material is not contraband but the reason for false declaration is to evade duty and taxes meant for FG and it behold on Customs charged with the responsibility of protecting national security, contributing to trade facilitation to make such seizure.”
Speaking on the relevance of strike force unit to the service, he said: “The implication is that the importer is deliberately shortachanging the Federal government and short changing government with needed fund to build infrastructure.”
“For those who question creation of strike force, seizures like this, intervention that has raked in N350m through alerts means without intervention, N350million would have gone into private pockets and the reality is that those forced to pay these money wont clap hands for Customs but they will talked about alerts, mutiple intervention and for those who questions strike force interventions, performance like this clearly justified the creation and will continue to do what they are asked to do.”