The Federal Operation Unit (FOU) Zone C of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has seized 29 prohibited items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1,074,099,739.00 and under payment recovered of over N54 million.
The Area Controller in-Charge of the Unit, Compt. Mohammed Uba Garka briefed newsmen on the seized items at premises of both Imo/Aba Command in Owerri and Benin warehouses of the NCS in Edo State.
He said that 18 suspects who were arrested in connection with the illegal deal are now undergoing interrogation for possible prosecution.
In a statement signed by the Unit’s Public Relations Officer, Onuigbo Ifeoma, the confiscated items include 2,522 bags of 50 kg foreign rice, 61,333 cartons of imported foreign poultry products, 720 cartons of foreign vegetable oil, 1,618 cartons and 1,466 pieces of furniture, 269 pieces of unused tyres.
Others are: 59 cartons and 1,964 pieces of spare parts, 39 pieces of used compressors, 29 bales of second hand clothing as well as 480 pairs of used shoes and 9 vehicles of assorted types, all seized in the South East and South-South geopolitical zones of the country.
Beyond the above statistics, Garka said that the seizures represented protection of the nation’s economy and security of the citizenry, adding that the 29 seized items were discovered due to official intelligence gathering and information supplied by patriotic Nigerians.
“Let me state clearly that it is simply not enough to inform you about the seizures and its DPV, what is of paramount importance is that we are implementing government’s policies that would boost our economic growth and provide employment.
“Many of the bags of the 50kg foreign rice seized were cleverly re-bagged and re-labeled by the smugglers to beat security check points on roads and give false semblance of locally produced items. Just as some items such as body sprays were criminally used to conceal other prohibited items”. he said.
The Comptroller regretted that accidents had continued to occur on the nation’s highways as a result of rampant use of second hand tyres imported by smugglers, stressing that the ban on importation of furniture and rice was meant to encourage public patronage and consumption of the locally produced ones to further boost the nation’s economy.
“If the rampant incidence of rice importation is allowed to go on, it would definitely discourage local production and consumption with a devastating effect on our economy.” he said.
The Customs boss however made it clear that his men were not out to frustrate individuals who are into genuine business but are only interested to facilitate legitimate trade, stressing that those in illegitimate business have nothing to fear as Customs is poised to detect, arrest and prosecute only those who fail to comply with relevant positions of the law.
He appealed to members of the public with useful information about smugglers, their agents and collaborators to make such information available to Service or to other sister Agencies for necessary action.
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