For cross-border illegal automobile smugglers, it has been bad business since 2015, as they lost 3,665 vehicles to the Nigeria Customs Service.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali(rtd), announced that the service has seized 3,665 vehicles from 2015 till date with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N13 billion.
Ali revealed this in his lecture titled “Problem of smuggling and its attendant consequence on Nigeria’s economy and the way out” at the IBB Golf and Country Club, on Thursday, October 5, in Abuja.
Ali, who gave a breakdown of the seizures, said in 2015, 1,917 vehicles were seized with DPV of N3.856 billion and 1,483 vehicles were seized in 2016 with DPV of N2.683 billion. He added that from January to August his year 265 were seized with DPV of N6.625 billion. The Customs boss said that the high value recorded in 2017 was because most of the vehicles were of high value which included 15 bullet proof vehicles.
Ali said out of the 18 vehicles seized in September in Abuja over non-duty payment, 13 were bullet proof vehicles of which 10 have no Customs papers. He said that Nigeria imported about 70% of its needs and that 45% of all the imports were smuggled into the country. “Lack of patriotism among the traders and complicity of Customs officers has added to the problem.
“Over 85 per cent 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,” Ali said. He said that the four arms containers intercepted this year were concealed with many cases of under declaration and diversion of imported goods.
On the challenges of Customs in fighting smuggling, he said the Service lost three officers this year. Ali said that Customs under him was being sanitised and now very few corrupt officers in its midst. “Ninety per cent of our officers are now imbibing the culture of doing the right thing,” he said. He urged Nigerians to report corrupt officers to enable the service weed out the 10 per cent of the corrupt officers.
Ali said that importers must be patriotic and stop inducing officers to fast track clearance of their goods. According to him, smuggling is a problem to the society that kills the local industries, adding that it hinders the growth of the economy. Ali attributed the cause of smuggling to greed.