The Customs Area Controller, The Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ Lagos of the Nigeria Customs Service,GarbaUba Mohammed has reiterated the commitment of the service towards trade facilitation.
This is even as he read the riot act to smugglers to desist from any activities that would jeopardise the safety of the country while robbing the government of revenue through smuggling saying that he will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every revenue due to the government is recovered.
Mohammed added that, “if you consider the number of containers being released daily from the ports and the number of containers we have intercepted for necessary investigation, you will know that we have high regards for trade facilitation. Our activities will not affect the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government,” he said.
Mohammed noted that anti-smuggling operations of the unit would not only increase revenue for the government by way of duty payment but also secure and businesses that are operating legally within the nation.
Speaking on the recent seizures of choice cars from some car marts in Lagos, Mohammed said: “Our operations are intelligence-based, and if the owners have evidence of duty payment they should forward, and the vehicles will be released for them.”
The CAC emphasized that the Customs powers to intercept any suspected container or goods anywhere is legally-backed by provisions of relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).
He said, “We will impound any suspected container; be it on the highways or in a warehouse, the law empowers us to do that.”
He used the occasion to advise truck owners to do thorough character checks before engaging drivers for their business concerns. “Owners must know the drivers they want to employ to be driving their trucks because any truck used for smuggling will be impounded.
“We don’t do disparity in arresting trucks, so long as they are caught in any act of being used for smuggling. It does not matter if the truck belongs to a rich man or a poor man. Our concern is to execute government policies in support of legitimate trade,” he said.
Speaking on efforts at managing anti-smuggling operations at border communities, the CAC said the Service has continued with its strategy to enlighten the communities on the dangers of smuggling, highlighting the security challenges it could pose across the nation, and its implication on the larger economy.
On that note, he sounded the warning again that the ban on importation of rice through land borders remained effective, adding that, “We know that as the year draws to a close, and as with other celebration periods, people may scale up smuggling, but government is very serious about the ban on rice import through land borders,” Mohammed said.