IN the last 2 months the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) stationed at the Seme border has impounded PMS, exotic cars and rice worth N1.06 billion from smugglers operating that route.
This is just as the command’s Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba said the command will further strengthen its anti-smuggling operations against trans-border crimes through intelligence-driven operations.
The NCS confiscated no fewer than 29 exotic vehicles valued at N177.3 million; 71 jerry-cans of 25 litre premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol worth N106,500.
Other seizures recorded were 6,753 bags of rice, an equivalent of eleven truck loads worth N157.5 million and 45 x 25 litre jerrycans of vegetable oil valued at N573,750, 21 cartons of tinned tomatoes, N127,575; and two sacks of used shoes costing N67,500 135 x 50kg bags of sugar with a duty paid value (DPV) of N567,000.
Taking journalists round some of the seizures at the command on Tuesday, Comptroller Garba made it clear that as a revenue agency, their responsibility in dealing with suspects was to arrest and detain and eventually hand over to the judiciary for prosecution.
The Seme Customs boss regretted that due to circumstances, the command could only meet up 76 per cent of its revenue target for 2018, but assured that this year would be a different ball game.
Uba lauded the newly launched Joint Border Patrol (JBP) at the Seme-Krake and Neope-Akanu in Badagry by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Benin Republic counterpart, Patrice Talon on October 23 last year.
“With the inauguration and subsequent movement of the command to the Joint Border Patrol (JBP) of Seme-Krake (designed to operate as a modern border), the operations of the command will be further enhanced through cooperation, collaboration and regional integration by facilitating the free movement of persons and services, reduction of trade and logistic costs, increase in inter-regional trade, increase of government revenue by eliminating trade barriers, reduction of delays, operating cost and availability of baseline data for impact assessment.
“This is to assure the customs high command that this year’s revenue target allocated will not only be met, but will be surpassed provided that other factors remain constant”, the Controller stated.
With the JBP initiative, which he serves as its Chairman and his Benin counterpart as Co-chairman, Uba informed that the system provided a one-stop border post, which he explained meant “single entry, single exit”.
He added that with that arrangement, once a traveller entered the post, he needed not move from one office to another as both sides of the divide (Nigeria and Benin) would attend to him at the same time in an enclave where all the agencies were present.
He assured that all the agencies of government on both sides were on the same page on the initiative; hence the assurance of travellers of unhindered movement in the course of their businesses.