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Customs Corner

How Smugglers Met Their Waterloo in 2022 – DC Ejibunu

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Author: Lucy Ulugbe; Lagos.

The Acting Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’, DC Hussein Ejibunu, has revealed that the year 2022 was a period of sustained anti-smuggling onslaught, zero compromise for duty evasion, and diligent facilitation of trade.

Ejibunu made this known on Thursday, while briefing newsmen on the activities of the Unit for the year 2022.

He said the Unit prosecuted its core mandates without fear or favor, while also preventing loss of government revenue by uncovering attempts at evading duties.

In his words, “We prosecuted our core mandates without fear or favor in the six states of the South-West namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo states, Even in the face of resistance, attacks, and tricks in the mode of concealment, we were duty bound to carry out our responsibilities. I am glad to report that we shook the smuggling world within our area of responsibility.”

“This Unit also prevented loss of government revenue as our assigned position of being a layer of check uncovered attempts at evading duties. We recovered the discovered shortfalls through the issuance of demand notices (DN).” He stressed.

“We did all these at the expense of our lives placing national interest ahead of any narrow or personal gain. It is sad to note that some of our officers paid the supreme price last year when they got killed by smugglers. For us, they are the heroes of the anti-smuggling battle and they will never be forgotten.” He noted.

On Anti Smuggling, the Acting Comptroller said, the Unit from January 1 to December 31, 2022, made a total seizure of smuggled items worth a duty paid value of Thirteen Billion, Nine Hundred and Eight Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-five Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty-six Naira, Five Kobo (N13,908,575,435.5).

He said, aside from protecting the national economy, some of the seizures achieved protection of citizens’ health because dangerous, expired, and harmful products were prevented from being smuggled into the country.

The items seized were foreign parboiled rice, vehicles, drugs, textiles, petroleum products, and other items in the import and export prohibition lists.

Ejibunu said rice topped the list of seizures in terms of volume. The unit seized 93,102 X 50kg which amounts to about 156 trailer loads of rice. He revealed that the newly constructed warehouse had an overflow of seized rice.

“A total number of 108 automobiles comprising of trucks, tankers, cars, and motorcycles were also
seized as smuggled items and means of conveyance of smuggled items.

Illicit drugs seized within the year under review were; 2,354 kg and 4,976 tablets of Cannabis sativa, 233 cartons X 225 milligrams, and 82 packs X 225 milligrams of Tramadol.

For petroleum products, the Unit seized 656,414 liters of premium motor spirit (PMS); that is, about 20 tanker loads of fuel from economic saboteurs”. He explained.

“We arrested 176 smuggling suspects last year, 7 secured convictions, 14 were charged to court and are at various stages of investigation and prosecution, 7 suspects are in detention; 2 suspects were handed over to NDLEA, and 1 suspect was handed over to the Nigerian Police respectively, while 151 are on administrative bail.” He said.

“On a sad note, four (4) of our officers namely; Late Inspectors of Customs TP Astor, and A Onwueguzie, and Assistant Inspectors of Customs, Musa, R and Bristol, E lost their lives in active service while confronting smugglers last year. While we frowned at such murderous acts; we also ensured that those behind some of the killings were arrested to face justice.” He noted.

“As approved by our enabling laws, the Unit patrolled within its area of responsibility and ensured that smuggled items were uncovered and seized wherever they were hidden. Our round-the-clock patrol is ever recharged as we don’t believe in leave, not even during the yuletide. Those who doubted this and attempted smuggling during the yuletide were shocked at our Christmas and New Year period operations.” He emphasized.

On Revenue, he said, the unit recovered shortfalls in duty payments and achieved a total collection of Eight Hundred and Seventy-eight Million, Three Hundred and Fourty-four Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighty-six Naira, Ninety-six Kobo. (N878,344,486.96) as revenue for the government in 2022.

“This collected revenue would have been lost but for the intervention of FOU ‘A’, checking to be sure correct duties were paid into government coffers.” He stated.

On trade Facilitation, Ejibunu said, within the period under review, the unit provided support for the facilitation of legitimate trade, ensuring ease of passage for compliant traders and double-checking suspected non-compliant traders.

“We also provided escort services for cargoes under bond to their respective destinations across the country.” He emphasized.

Ejibunu thanked the Comptroller General of Customs and his Management Team
for their unflinching support while also urging smugglers and their collaborators to seek legitimate means of livelihood.

“We want to thank the CGC and his management team for their unflinching support throughout last year and the previous years.” He said.

“For 2023, we shall sustain and increase the tempo of our anti-smuggling operations, ensuring zero compromise as usual, arresting perpetrators, and seizing their wares.”He stated.

“We want to advise smugglers and their collaborators to seek legitimate means of livelihood this year as this Unit will continually make life unbearable for them through interdictions, arrests, seizures, and diligent prosecution.” He concluded.

Customs Corner

Customs Oyo/Osun Command Intercepts Fake Drugs, Others, Worth Over N1.8B

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…As Comptroller Ben Expresses Dedication to Protect Well-being of Citizens

Author: Lucy Nyambi.

The Nigeria Customs Service, Oyo/Osun Area Command, has intercepted sacks of fake Pharmaceutical drugs worth over N1.8billion.

Customs Area Controller Comptroller Ben Oramalugo disclosed this to reporters during a press briefing at the Command headquarters on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Comptroller Ben stated that the Commands anti-smuggling activities have been strategically positioned to ensure the Federal Government’s policy on border closure is totally enforced by preventing the importation of prohibited items harmful to the great citizens of Nigeria. He also expressed the effort to prevent the exportation of essential food resources for individual economic gains by some economic saboteurs.

“We have successfully intercepted and seized contraband goods, including items that pose threats to economic stability and lives of citizens in the country,” He added.

Highlights of the seizures include 53 sacks of fake Pharmaceutical drugs with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of ₦1,739,000,000.00, 1,309 pieces of used tyres with a DPV of ₦70,140,000.00.

Others are; 345 × 50kg bags of Foreign Parboiled Rice, 344 × 25 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), 4 Wraps (4 Kilogram) of Indian Hemp, 45 Sacks, 8 Sacks (9 Bales) of Used Clothings and Shoes, 34 Cartons of Foreign Wine, and 40 Bottles (5 litres), 21 Bottles (1 litres) of Foreign Vegetable Oil, all with a Total DPV of N1,890,022,931.00.

The CAC stated that, despite the prevailing economic challenges, the Command demonstrated resilience and efficiency in revenue generation by collecting the sum of N5,664,295,751.15 in February 2024. When added to the sum of N6,824,954,338.96, already collected for January 2024, the cumulative sum of N12,489,250,090.11 was collected so far for the fiscal year of 2024.

Comptroller Ben reiterated that all Borders within the Commands Area of Responsibility are still closed due to the Federal Government policy on Border closure and as such, “Command Officers remain vigilant and dedicated to preventing the smuggling of items that could compromise the health and well-being of our citizens.”

He appreciated the efforts of all Traditional Rulers, Local Government Chairmen and Key Stakeholders in both Oyo and Osun States, who have continued to enlighten their people about the negative effect of smuggling on the economy.

The CAC expressed the Nigeria Customs Service’s unwavering commitment to transparency, accountability, and the nation’s overall well-being. “We are confident that, through collective efforts, we can overcome the challenges we face and contribute to a more secure and prosperous future for Nigeria.”

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Customs Corner

COWA Collaborates with Youths, Women to Combat Drug Abuse

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Author: Iruoghene Abra, Muhammad Bashir.

The National President of the Customs Officers’ Wives Association (COWA), Mrs. Kikelomo Adeniyi, has expressed readiness to partner with the National Youth for Women Empowerment and Education in Nigeria as part of her plans to empower women through various ‘progressive’ programs aimed at improving their economic status.

Mrs. Kikelomo made this declaration during a meeting with members of the National Youth for Women Empowerment and Education in Nigeria, led by Ambassador Ibrahim Ibrahim, at the COWA National Secretariat on Thursday, 29 February 2024. She also emphasized her dedication to supporting women through educational initiatives.

In an address, Mrs. Kikelomo commended the organization’s executives for their tireless efforts in achieving the organization’s goals and objectives. She urged the young executives to continue their exemplary work in serving humanity.

Highlighting COWA’s activities, the President outlined initiatives such as providing support for women and children, empowering them with new skills and startup kits, and serving as the voice for the voiceless in society.

She emphasized that COWA stands as a pillar of support for wives and children during times of need, advocating for the rights of women who face similar challenges and discrimination in society.

Addressing the importance of mutual support, the COWA National President stressed the significance of women supporting each other to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential.

She remarked, “The strength of a woman should not be measured by the challenges she faces but by her resilience in overcoming them.”

Continuing, she emphasized, “A healthy wife brings a wealthy life, as the well-being of women is crucial for the prosperity of households and communities.”

Mrs. Adeniyi highlighted the transformative power of education for women, stating, “When women are empowered, they contribute significantly to the economy, health, education, and all sectors of society, leading to positive change.”

She advocated for women to hold significant societal positions, citing their consistent ability to surpass expectations.

Mrs. Adeniyi reiterated COWA’s commitment to empowering women and children, expressing willingness to collaborate with the National Youth for Women Empowerment and Education in Nigeria to achieve shared objectives.

In response, the National Coordinator of the National Youth for Women Empowerment and Education in Nigeria, Ambassador Ibrahim Ibrahim, briefed COWA on the organization’s activities, which include encouraging women to embrace education and advocating against child abuse and domestic violence.

He highlighted the organization’s focus on supporting widows and children, facilitating skill acquisition, and caring for the elderly, praising Mrs. Adeniyi’s leadership and integrity expressing confidence in her ability to lead COWA to greater heights.

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Agriculture

Customs Pledges Support to Boost Hibiscus Industry in Jigawa State

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Author: Gift Wada.

The Nigeria Customs, on Tuesday, 27 February 2024, restated its commitment to support the Jigawa State Government in boosting the production and exportation of Hibiscus flowers in the state.

The Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Dauda Ibrahim Chana, voiced his support during the official commissioning of the COMTTRA JIGAWA Hibiscus processing company by Governor Umar Namadi at the Magatari Border Free Zone in Jigawa state.

He pledged backing for the project, expressing the commitment of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, to promote exports, maintain trade balance, and safeguard national revenue and security.

“As a service, I wish to reiterate our commitment to support this laudable initiative and at the same time pledge our maximum co-operation for the effective take-off of this wonderful programme,” he said

While commending Governor Namadi, Chana highlighted the significance of the hibiscus plant in fostering value addition, encouraging exports, and generating employment opportunities.

On his part, the Bauchi State Governor, Umar Namadi, stated that the partnership aims to establish a cutting-edge Fumigation Chamber and a state-of-the-art cleaning and processing facility dedicated to hibiscus flowers. Operating under the brand name “Comttra Jigawa,” these facilities are poised to streamline production processes and elevate quality standards in the industry. This transformative collaboration seeks to position Jigawa as a leading center for hibiscus production and processing across Nigeria.

According to the Governor, In a bid to revolutionize the hibiscus value chain within its borders, the Jigawa State Government and Comttraex Nigeria Limited had inked a landmark Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement on April 19, 2022.

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