By Richards Adeniyi
A total of 3,665 vehicles with duty paid value of N13.164bn were seized by the Nigeria Customs Service between 2015 and 2017, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), has said.
Ali stated this in a lecture on ‘Problems of smuggling and its consequences on the Nigerian Economy: The way out’, at the IBB International Golf and Country Club in Abuja on Friday.
Proving a breakdown of the seizures, he stated that in 2015, some 1,917 vehicles were seized with duty paid value of N3.856bn; while 1,483 others valued at N2.683bn were seized in 2016.
He noted that so far this year, 265 vehicles had been seized with duty paid value of N6.625bn, adding that the high value recorded this year was because most of the vehicles were of high worth, adding that 15 bulletproof vehicles were among those already seized this year.
Ali said 18 vehicles were seized in Abuja recently for the failure of the importers to pay the appropriate duty, adding that 13 of them were bulletproof automobiles, while 10 were discovered to have no Customs papers after investigation.
He decried the menace of smuggling and noted that Nigeria was importing about 70 per cent of all it needs, adding that 45 per cent of all imported goods in the country were smuggled.
Ali stated that the four containers carrying arms and intercepted this year were concealed with many cases of under declaration and diversion of imported goods.
“Over 85 per cent of traders are not trustworthy as they falsify documents, except for about five per cent of them who can be trusted and often have their goods cleared within 48 hours,” he said.
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On the challenges confronting the NCS in fighting smuggling, the Customs boss said the service had lost three officers this year.
He, however, stated that the agency was being sanitised as most of the personnel were no more corrupt, adding, “Ninety per cent of our officers are now imbibing the culture of doing the right thing.”
He urged members of the public to help report corrupt officers so that the 10 per cent corrupt ones could be fished out, while asking traders to stop inducing Customs officers to fast-track the clearance process of their goods.