Briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) who inspected the seized vehicles alongside other seizures said that the vehicles were smuggled into the country through unapproved routes.
According to a breakdown by the customs boss, the smuggled vehicles include 8 Lexus Jeep LX 570, 2017 Model, 12 Land Cruiser Jeep 2017 Model and 17 Toyota Hilux 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 Models respectively.
Also speaking on other seizures made by the men of the Service, Ali further disclosed that a total of twelve thousand and eighty-one (12, 081) bags of smuggled parboiled rice with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of One Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-Eight Naira (149, 007, 658) were also seized alongside other goods.
According to him,” Between Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd of August, 2017, the CGC Compliance Team and the Roving Team of the Federal Operations Unit Zone A, armed with credible information, trailed and evacuated 37 assorted vehicles smuggled into the country through unapproved routes.
“Apart from the seized vehicles and rice, the reinvigorated anti-smuggling operations yielded another 156 assorted seizures including Bales of used clothing, Indian Hemp and Tyres”.
He observed that the containers containing the assorted seizures which allegedly came from China were cleared from the nation’s seaports adding that the service was digging hard to ensure that officers found culpable would be punished.
“Investigation is ongoing, we try to verify some of these papers but we believe most of these things because of our training and profiling, these things came from China. So, when we conclude investigations, we will know exactly where they came from. Our suspicion is that this is where the preponderance of the imports of this nature come from”, he said.
The CGC added that some suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures and were being detained to allow for a thorough investigation into the matter in order not to punish the innocent.
The Customs boss informed that contrary to news making the rounds that the ban on the importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders had been lifted, the ban remained in force urging Nigerians to disregard such rumours as the handiwork of mischief makers.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the federal government policies banning the importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders are still in force. Nigeria Customs Service remains resolute in its determination to enforce these policies. NCS will continue to work towards crippling smugglers and getting them out of the illegitimate business”, he said.
He warned that in the face of insecurity and economic challenges, no responsible government would fold its hands while unpatriotic elements continue in illegal activities that would further compromise national economic and security well-being of her people.
He added,” NCS as one of the enforcement agencies of government will continue to work towards ensuring compliance with all extant laws governing imports and exports in Nigeria. For those who use violence as instrument of intimidation, let it be known that going forward, NCS operatives will not hesitate to use appropriate force to deal with any threat that is intended to obstruct performance of statutory function”.