CUSTOMS EXPOSED; Many Escort Vehicles, Used By Federal Agencies (MDAs) Were Purchased From Smugglers
CUSTOMS EXPOSED; Many Escort Vehicles, Used By Federal Agencies (MDAs) Were Purchased From Smugglers

CUSTOMS EXPOSED; Many Escort Vehicles, Used By Federal Agencies (MDAs) Were Purchased From Smugglers

November 9, 2021

Many of the escort vehicles used by Federal Ministers, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, were purchased from smugglers, this is according to the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.

Aliyu Saidu, NCS assistant comptroller-general (ACG) in charge of ICT/modernisation, made this disclosure on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives committee on customs.

Saidu was responding to questions on how vehicles are smuggled into the country.

He said according to the NCS database, the number of Hilux vehicles imported into the country have dropped, “but you will find them in hundreds in town”

Leke Abejide, chairman of the committee, had asked about measures put in place by NCS to check vehicle smuggling.

The lawmaker said he had an encounter with smugglers, who import vehicles into the country, thereby denying the government import duties. Let me give you a scenario of myself; I told DCG Talatu. I said I have vehicles for my own use; that I bought and I shipped them,” he said.

“The person who shipped it told me that there is a way they can do it for me not to pay the correct duty.

“I said not me. How much is the money? If I have money to buy this vehicle, how much is the duty that I will not be able to pay?”

Responding, Saidu commended the lawmaker for his stand against smuggling, and accused high-profile individuals in Nigeria of supporting smuggling activities.

“I can’t thank enough the honourable member that raised this issue on vehicles. Nigeria Customs Service needs your support in this regard,” he said

“Unfortunately, today, the big men in Nigeria — I didn’t say national assembly members — all their escort vehicles (Hilux) are smuggled vehicles.

MDAs – ministries and departments of government – today, patronise smuggled Hilux. And that is why if you see our system, Hilux importation has dropped, but you will find them in hundreds in town. Mostly, they use them as escorts.”

Saidu asked the lawmakers to amend existing laws to make it difficult to smuggle vehicles into the country.

He added that customs is working on a mobile app that will tackle smuggling, and also ensure that the right import duty is paid to the government.

“We are almost done with that one. We have made the presentation to the management about two weeks ago. They made some critical observations, which we are working on now before we take it back to them for final approval. Then, it will be rolled out,” he said.

Commenting on the development, the chairman of the committee asked the NCS to get the app ready to save “the image of customs and Nigerians from all these embarrassments”.

Meanwhile, the new Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Deputy Compt. Hussein Ejibunu has vowed to take the fight to smugglers operating within his Command in Lagos and Ogun states.

Ejibuno who took over as Acting Controller of Customs on Friday from Usman Yahaya who retired recently from service in the unit charged with anti-smuggling activities, was welcomed to the unit on Saturday night by smugglers with the murder of an operative at Owode in Ogun State.

Ejibuno served in different capacities and worked in all the six geo-political zones of the country. Before his recent posting, he was the Commander of Comptroller-General Strike Force Headquarters Team. He worked at Ondo/Ekiti and Tincan Island Commands as the Deputy Comptroller Enforcement.

Speaking shortly after a brief taking over ceremony, Ejibuno thanked officers of the unit for the warm reception he received on arrival.

He further expressed his innermost desire for the officers to support him in taking the unit to greater heights. He appealed for unity among officers in the course of discharging their duties.

He encouraged officers to utilise their physical and intellectual capacities by making positive inputs that would take the service to great heights.

“Everybody should think of what to do for the Service and not only what to gain from it,” he said.

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