Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone C, Owerri, Imo State, have impounded 10 exotic vehicles, among them a Rolls Royce car and Mercedes Benz (G-Wagon) Brabus. Others include Bughatti, Bentley and armoured cars. The cumulative Duty Paid Value (DPV) is about N271.8 million.
The NCS Zonal Controller, FOU Zone C, Mr. Olusemire Kayode, disclosed this at the weekend. Kayode also said the service seized about 2,900 bags of imported rice and other items with a total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N442 million between January and March this year.
This came as the NCS Comptroller-General’s Strike Force in Lagos arrested four smugglers in connection with 6,102 bags of 50 kilogrammes foreign parboiled rice laden in 10 trucks and other contraband. The seizures, with an approximate Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N460.8 million, were made by in Lagos and other parts of South-West.
The controller, Kayode, who took journalists to see the Owerri seizures, also said that his men impounded some room furniture with dining tables and chairs with a DPV of N46 million on Benin- Ore Expressway.
He explained that importation of furniture was not illegal but that the items were seized for wrong declaration. According to him, the importer declared it as used vehicle in order to evade paying the right duty on it. He said six persons were arrested in connection with the smuggling activities.
Then, why is it that the superrich in the country should be the ones to sabotage the economy of the country? Why would anybody bring in a vehicle as expensive as Mercedes GWagon Brabus and choose the inconvenient path of smuggling it through the bushes instead of paying the little duties that go to government? We also have bulletproof Range Rover Sports. Why would you want to show your wealth without complying with government policies?” he queried.
On some people, who claim ignorance of import duty policies, the controller said “but we have consistently said it that anyone who wants to buy any vehicle should first of all ask the dealer about the ‘C’ number and visit any customs formation nearest to him to get information about the vehicle. With the ‘C’ number, you will find out if the import duty was paid on the vehicle or not. Don’t just go to any dealer to buy vehicle without finding out the ‘C’ number of the vehicle.
“We also have about 2,900 bags of rice here. If you get to Calabar, you will see the number of bags of rice we have over there. We have exotic cars, bulletproof cars, used fridges and we have compressors. These are items that are banned from coming into Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of the strike force, Deputy Comptroller Abdullahi Kirawa, said in Lagos at the weekend that the four suspected smugglers had been granted administrative bail and were awaiting prosecution. He added that the seizures were made between January 1 and March 30, 2019 in Zone A, which covers South-West. Kirawa stressed that 304 cartons x 150 packets of imitation jewellery worth N36.5 million were falsely declared as bead mold.
The deputy comptroller noted that the pirated jewellery were not contraband but could be imported if the importer paid the correct duty. He said: “It was seized because its importation is contrary to Section 46 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA); apart from being containerised, there is concealment and the entry made was wrong.
“What is here is imitation jewellery while the entry made to the Customs is mixed bead mold. The two are quite different, therefore, the person did this to evade payment of the correct duty and therefore it is liable to seizure.” Kirawa listed other contraband to include Toyota Avalon, valued at N2.5 million and MAN Diesel truck, N8.5 million; 1,698 pieces of used tyres, N8.5 million and 952 cartons of rubber footwear and 140 cartons of rubber soles worth N13.4 million.