Seme Customs Intercepts Fake $6m Bills, N9.3m PMS
The Seme Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted fake $6m dollar bills from suspected transborder criminal syndicates in the Gbaji area of Badagry, Lagos.
The Command also impounded 1,300 by 30 litres jerry can of petrol equivalent to 39,000 litres with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N9.3m, along the creeks in the last 13 days, despite scarcity of the product in the country.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Dera Nnadi, mni told journalists during a press briefing in Seme on Thursday that the two suspects conveying the fake currency from Nigeria to the Republic of Benin have been arrested.
According to him, the suspects tried to bribe the Customs officers with genuine $150,000 to look the other way, but they rejected the offer.
He said: “Two male suspects were arrested in connection with the crime and are in currently in our custody pending prosecution. The arrest was made at Gbaji checkpoint along the Seme corridor on the 31 of January, 2023.
“It would only take the eagle eye of a trained officer to detect that they are fake. Some of these currencies bear the same serial number, and it will be very difficult for you to identify them as fake.
“Also on the 31 of January, 2023 at a about 0530 hours, Officer on patrol along Gbetrome base intercepted Six (6) Maltese International Passports with the same picture of a lady but bearing different names. Two (2) Senegalese International Passports, Three (3) Togolese International Passports. Four (4) Republic of Benin International Passports. One (1) Republic of Niger International Passport and Ten (10) International Driving License of these various countries from two male suspects who are also in our custody pending further investigation.
“Other items seized include 55 sacks containing 550 pieces of donkey skin with DPV oF N11.371.511. The significant of the sizure is that it shows how much our endanger speices are being eroded by unpatriotic elements”.
On the seized PMS, he described the smugglers trying to ferry the product out of the country as unpatriotic, especially at a time when Nigerians are struggling to get it, with some having to sleep in fuel stations as a result.
Upon resumption, Compt. Nnadi had pledged to adopt new strategies to boost trade, while enforcing the nation’s anti-smuggling laws along the Abidjan Lagos Corridor (ALCO) in line with the ECOWAS protocols on free movement of goods and persons, as well as encouraging compliant traders and dealing decisively with obstinate criminals who will wish to test the Command’s resolve.
He disclosed that the Command facilitated export of 122 trucks bearing 3,770.49 metric tons of made in Nigeria cargo with Free On Board value of N523.660,496.80 and National Export Supervision Scheme (FES) of N2,618,302.10; while it recorded five declarations of import with a total DPV of N13,383,104 within the period under review.
He continued: “In line with keeping to that promise but bearing in mind the challenges of the Command as one that is still recovering from the effects of the border closure, the Command has facilitated the movement of ETLS: 70 Trucks with fees amounting to N 1,414,665.01 collected. Baggage declarations: There were 81 baggage declarations with duty amounting to N4,520,722.
“The items imported under this arrangement include food products and beverages produced within the sub-region. The dearth in import is as a result of the trade policy introduced i Republic of Benin which traders and indeed the Service consider hostile to Nigeria”.
The CAC noted that the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures by the Federal Ministry of Finance lifted the ban on export of goods into Nigeria hitherto prohibited under item 8 Schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff.
He however, stated that this is subject to the exporters obtaining approval from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and payment of 2.5 per cent export surcharge of the present value of the goods. He added that traders are yet to take full advantage of this gesture, and called on them to optimise the opportunities offered by the policy.
The anti-smuggling czar further highlighted that other sources of revenue for the Command are fees collected from the auction sales of seized items especially petroleum products and other perishable items.
“It is worthy of note that the major source of revenue of the Command (import/export) have not been enhanced since the opening of the land Borders as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria as the traders are still bracing with the challenges of having been out of business for over two years.
“These achievements (progress) so far, were not made on a platter of gold. It took the painstaking efforts of the officers who spend hours on patrol and surveillance to record the seizures. We wish to reiterate that we will not relent on this effort”, he said.
According to him, the Seme Command will continue to dialogue, engage, sensitise and educate the public on socio-economic implication of smuggling as well as performing statutory function of enforcing compliance in line with government fiscal policies.
He appealed to parents and guardians residing in border communities to prevail on their children, wards and youths to desist from such criminal acts such as smuggling.
“During my courtesy visit to the traditional rulers in various communities Seme Badagry axis, I sought for their support in combating smuggling and urged them to educate their subjects on the menace of smuggling and the need to support security operatives discharging their statutory duties.
“In all the traditional palaces visited, the challenges facing the border communities were enumerated to include lack of Federal presence in terms of infrastructure and developments, unemployment of the youths and we received request for Nigeria Customs Service to specifically create quota for children of the border communities during its recruitment exercises to generate employment for their teeming youths. I have communicated their request and recommended same to the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service”.
Compt. Nnadi appreciated the collaborative efforts of other sister agencies in the fight against smuggling and appealed for their continuous support in the interest of national security and economic wellbeing of Nigeria, adding that the Command will continue to carry out its legitimate duties as prescribed by the law.
He also thanked the CGC and management of Customs, officers and men of the Command, community leaders and partner, government agencies, as well as the media for their support.