Customs FOU Zone C Battles Smugglers | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Business, Maritime

Customs FOU Zone C Battles Smugglers

Posted: Nov 22, 2015 at 7:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Tackling smuggling has since time immemorial been the uphill task for the Nigerian Custom Service. The more the operatives of the enforcement unit of the agency strategize to nip the criminal activities of the smugglers in the bud, the more the smugglers continue to perfect ways to outwit them, but the controller in-charge of the FOU Zone C Command, Nigeria Custom Service, Mr. Victor Dimka, says the unit is determined to eradicate smuggling in the South East and South South. PAUL OGBUOKIRI reports

According to the Chairman, Campaign for Democracy, South East Zone and Publicity Secretary of Anambra Traders Association, Onitsha branch, Dede Uzor the operatives of NCS, FOU,Zone C, Owerri are raising the bar in fighting smuggling in the region.

He told Sunday Telegraph that the customs ant-smuggling operatives in the South East and South South regions is not only protecting the economy, but is also preventing loss of lives. The customs, according to him, have in recent time stopped the importation of fake, expired and substandard foods and drugs into the eastern parts of the country.

Uzor further commended the prompt response of Mr. Dimka, in putting his men under check through enhanced monitoring to prevent compromise and corruption. Uzor also dismissed the excuse of ignorance of what is prohibited and what is not prohibited by a section of the trading community, saying people should understand properly rules governing their line of business before staking their investments in it.

‘’My advise is that members of the trading community get themselves more educated about the functions of customs and why smuggling is being checked. They should also try to know that they can import before going into it’’ He added that ‘’No genuine trader or importer should for any reason, avoid the customs if they are doing their businesses right.

Avoiding customs patrol is very unnecessary’’ Sunday Telegraph learnt that following the alleged unlawful activities of the criminals who have been extorting money from traders and business men operating from some states of South East to Oron in Cross Rivers State, claiming to be customs officers, Mr. Dimka immediately swung into action to fish out the criminal elements who have been parading themselves as customs operatives by setting up the task force to check the activities of hoodlums.

Sunday Telegraph further learnt that since the task force headed by Mr. Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, was set up by FOU Zone ‘C’, and it swung into action, the hoodlums have vanished from the roads.

Impressed by the swift response of Mr. Dimka to their appeal, to investigate the activities of the faceless extortionists, civil society groups and some trading organizations, have promised to help FOU Zone C with information to rid South East of extortionists and smugglers who engage in importing contraband goods.

“FOU Zone ‘C’ in its fight against smuggling has seized over N5.4 billion worth of banned goods between 2012 to 2015, a feat that has not been recorded in the zone since its creation, in 2012 it made 166 seizures worth N1.04 billion, in 2013 it made 267 seizures worth N1.6 billion; in 2014, it made over 300 seizures worth N1.88 billion and between January and September, 2015; it has made about 367 seizures worth about N2.2 billion, thereby reducing smuggling to the barest minimum,” a performance chart made available to Sunday Telegraph by the FOU Zone C indicates.

Meanwhile, the anti-smuggling measures of the unit has continued with records of seizures of assorted contraband items bearing an overall Duty Paid Value (DPV) of two hundred and eighty-one million, two hundred and fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and twenty-two Maura (#281,258,822) with #25,356,397.00 as total underpayment recovered. A total of 32 suspects have been arrested in connection with the illegal business, while 21 cases are now in courts.

Dimka disclosed this to newsmen recently while showcasing the seizures. He explained that the seizures which were made between the September 30 and November nine within the zone was as a result of the renewed vigour of the officers and men if the unit and the support of some sister agencies.

Some of the items intercepted include; 325 bales of second hand clothing with a DPV of N41,570,000.00; 526 pieces of foreign used tyres with a DPV of N3,156,000.00; 100 cartons of rubber slippers which had a DPV of N41,320,000.00 and 3 vehicles with a DPV of N5,659,125.00, which were all recorded within the Owerri axis.

In addition, Dimka said that a total of 46 vehicles with a DPV of N222, 287,855.00; three vehicles with a DPV of N3,517,842.00 and 40 bags of 50kg rice with a DPV of N748,000.00, (52 vehicles in all) were equally made in Benin, Calabar and Enugu accordingly.

Dimka disclosed that the latest feat was accomplished by the combined efforts of officers and men on duty who he said are irrevocably determined to see that smugglers, their sponsors and collaborators are apprehended and brought to book.

He described as stupid, appalling and absurd the persistent scourge of smuggling in the country despite obvious severe penalties for culprits involved.

“We are painstakingly doing our investigation and we will definitely get to the root of these cases and bring all involved to book, while those in court will be compelled to answer for what they have done,” he stated.

He made it clear that the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) Col. Hameed Ali has zero tolerance for corruption and is poised to ensure that maximum revenue is collected into government coffers.