Customs Impounds N501.6m Contraband In Owerri

16 exotic vehicles and other items of N501.6 million were impounded by the Federal Operations Unit’s (FOU’s) Zone C of the Nigeria Customs Service.

The items include an armoured Land Cruiser, 4,338 bags of foreign rice and fake drugs with a total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N501,650,065.00.

The Zonal Comptroller Olusemire Kayode said the seizures were made between June and August.

He said the interception of the contraband at various points within the zone was a continuation of the relentless clampdown on smuggling activities by men of the NCS.

The Comptroller said one truckload of unregistered and fake pharmaceutical drugs (Chakarain xtra tablet) with a DPV of N57 million was also intercepted by Customs officials on Benin-Ore Expressway. He said seven suspects were arrested in connection with seizures.

Olusemire gave the list of the seized items as bulletproof Toyota Land Cruiser (2013); Toyota Land Cruiser (2012); Lexus IS 250(2006); Mercedes Benz MLS (2012 model); four Toyota Venza; three Toyota Hilux (2018, 2017, 2016 models), among others.

Also impounded were 595 bags of foreign rice, which were allegedly concealed in a cement truck to beat Custom checkpoints.

The others are bales of used clothing and used tyres.

Conducting reporters round the impounded items, Olusemire advised Nigerians to desist from wasting their hard-earned resources on smuggling, which they erroneously perceive as a business.

The Comptroller said smugglers lose a lot of money as the NCS continues to decimate their ranks. He advised those buying cars to patronise reputable car dealers and always insist on seeing the Customs certificate before buying any car.

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Olusemire said: “Look at these cars that people bought from abroad. They should know that they are supposed to pay Customs duty on the cars, but they will rather prefer to cut corners, and at the end, the cars are impounded.

“Many people complain that the dealers they bought their cars from in the country scammed them. To that, I say, please, endeavour to buy your car from a dealer who will not scam you.

“This is because it’s our duty to pick up goods that are smuggled into the country. We have the statutory duty to do this. So, taking us to court won’t help you.”

The Comptroller described the smuggling of foreign rice into the country as economic sabotage.

He added: “We have arable lands across the country where rice can be grown in commercial quantity: Abakaliki, Kebbi, Anambra, Ofada, Lagos, Adamawa states; just name them. We have rice there and the rice is in the markets. The local rice is far more edible than foreign rice.

“One of the problems associated with foreign rice is that most of them are expired. If you must import foreign rice, you must go through the ports. Why would anyone even go through the ports to bring rice when we have very arable lands all over the country that produce this food in abundance?”

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