ANOTHER RAIN OF SEIZURES AT FOU CUSTOMS
.Seizes 18 exotic cars, N408.3m pangolin shells
.Arrests 17 suspects
.Rakes in N1.1bn revenue
By Udeme Clement
The Federal Operations Unit ,FOU, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Lagos, of Nigeria Customs Service ,NCS, is in the news again for massive seizures of 18 exotic vehicles, 4,201 bags of foreign rice equivalent to seven trailers load, 2,619 cartons of poultry products, 1,105 gallons of vegetable oil, 2,637 pieces of used-tyres, 1,333 bales of second-hand clothes, 2,001kg of Pangolin and 343kg of Elephant tusks, in just one month of operations.
FOU through well mapped out operational strategies arrested 17 suspects in connection with the seizures, even as the operatives swiftly arrested a Chinese national among the culprits.
Briefing newsmen at the Unit, the Customs Area Controller ,CAC, of FOU, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, disclosed that the items intercepted in the month of February, 2018 are estimated at the Duty Paid Value ,DPV, of over N1billion.
Conducting Journalists round the premises, the CAC explained that the assorted vehicles that include one Rolls Royce, Chrysler, Audi Q7, Land Rover HSE, Toyota Venza, Ford Taurus, Honda Cross tour, four Mercedes Benz, three Kia and Escalade, ranging from 2008 to 2015 model were evacuated from a car mart at Lekki, while others were seized along Ijebu Odo expressway.
The CAC pointed out, “Remarkably within the month under review is the Warehouse Operations Team led by Assistant Comptroller Mutalib Sule, which through intelligence raided an apartment at No.38 Ogundana street at Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos and evacuated 55 sacks of Pangolin Shells weighing 2001kg, valued at N408.3million and 218 pieces of Elephant Tusks weighing 343kg, valued at N85.1million”.
The Unit further recorded impressive performance in the same month with recovery of N67.9million from demand notices raised on goods intercepted while attempting to beat the system through transfer of value and under declaration, making a cumulative revenue generation of N1.1billion.
Within the same period, FOU intercepted a 20ft container with registration number CAIU0961053 for false declaration, which the CAC warned is tantamount to outright seizure.
Responding to questions on the outstanding records made by his Unit in a very short period, the CAC emphasized, “You will recall that the responsibilities of Customs have undoubtedly increased tremendously overtime because of the implementation of different International Protocols and Conventions. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered species ,CITES, 1973 entails that Customs Administration globally protects wild life by intercepting illegal trade on such animals”.
“It prevents the killings of endangered species since the tusks are only available after the killing of Elephant and Pangolin. In the spirit of inter-agency collaboration, the seized tusks have been handed over to Nigeria Environment Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency ,NESREA, for further investigation, in collaboration towards protecting our natural habitat, which you all witnessed earlier”.
The CAC stressed, “For the avoidance of doubt, our action is in line with the provisions of Sections 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act ,CEMA, Cap 45, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 (Power to search premises), Section 158 of CEMA, Cap 45 (power to patrol freely).
Therefore, we are warning economic saboteurs to desist from nefarious activities and allow sanity in our economic environment, as we will not hesitate to carry out our statutory responsibilities accordingly”