By Kehinde Ibrahim, Lagos
THE Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ’ A’, with headquarters in Lagos, said it has intercepted and seized large quantities of expired seasonings (Chicken cubes), which smugglers tried to bring into the country, to be sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
Hussein K, Ejibunu, Acting Controller, FOU Zone ‘A’, who disclosed this in Lagos on Thursday during a press briefing said the product expired in 2021.
Ejibunu, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs(DC), who also described the act perpetrated by unscrupulous importers and smugglers as, “a misplaced priority as demonstrated in the use of hard-earned forex for the importation of expired seasonings, said other goods such as used clothes, shoes and tyres were intercepted and seized.
He averred that these goods are not only injurious to the economy but also, a despicable act by some desperate importers to make monetary gains at the detriment of other peoples’ health.
The Customs boss disclosed that his Unit made seizures with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N537, 479, 927.5 in the Month of July 2022, adding that nine suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures.
He also disclosed that through meticulous checks on documents, followed by the issuance of Demand Notices (DN), to importers/ agents, found to have short-paid their duties to the Federal Government, the sum of N24,957,351.71 was collected as revenue to the coffers of the Federal Government.
“The amount would have been lost to some non-compliant importers/ agents if not for the watchfulness and the uncompromising disposition of officers of the Unit.”
Notable among the seized goods, according to DC Ejibunu; are 7,261 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, said to be equivalent to 12 truck-load, 600 bags of basmati rice of 5kg each, 34,725 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 39 bales of Used clothes; 225 pieces of used tyres, 201 cartons of expired seasoning (chicken cubes), 331 cartons of frozen poultry, 6 units of used imported cars, 2,634 cartons of slippers/shoes, 900 pairs of used shoes and 42 units of used motorcycles.
The DC who warned the economic saboteurs to desist from their nefarious activities/ trade or continue to count their losses said: “From the foregoing, it is evident that these dare devil smugglers are unrelenting in executing their unlawful and vile business.
“We are, therefore, soliciting useful and timely information from patriotic Nigerians to enable us tame smuggling.
“Compliant importers and agents are encouraged to sustain their compliance level, as the Unit and the Service remain resolute at facilitating legitimate trade, ” DC Ejibunu enthused.
Speaking further on the negative effects of the smuggled goods, DC Ejibunu said:
“Let me use this medium to remind you that poultry products remain a prohibited item under the import list, because of its attending health and economic implications.
“It may interest you to know that the federal government in her wisdom banned the importation of poultry products so as to support the growth of our domestic poultry farms and to protect them from foreign competition.
“Secondly, it was discovered that in the process of transporting these products, some hazardous chemicals are applied to help in preserving the products; since its frozen state of being cannot be sustained till it reaches the final consumer.
“This act calls for concern as it could be a source of different ailments and diseases.”
He added that ” perhaps, there is no Nigerian family that has not been affected by either an accident caused by a substandard or used tyre, skin diseases or cancers and many more; as a result of patronage to prohibited imported products into the country.
“While we collectively sympathize with those that are affected by this menace, we are also, calling on patriotic citizens to cooperate with the Customs Service and other law enforcement agencies to stamp it out.
“You may recall that weeks ago, Nigerians had to pay more for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), amidst scarcity.
“Despite the fact that the federal government had subsidised the product for local consumption, many Nigerians still passed through this hardship; partly because some unscrupulous citizens choose to satisfy their egoistic desires by smuggling the products into the Republic of Benin; some of which were along the border corridors. “