The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone C of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in Owerri said it had seized eight exotic cars and other items whose owners refused to pay duties, defrauding the Federal Government of about N442 million.
The Unit Controller of the zone, Compt. Kayode Olusemire, said this while displaying the cars and other items seized by the Customs along Benin axis to journalists in its Benin office on Friday.
He said duties were expected to be paid on imported items, but expressed regret that smugglers had remained adamant in spite of repeated appeals and confiscation of goods.
He said that six arrests were made in connection with the smuggled goods, but were later released on bail while investigations were ongoing.
Olusemire gave the break down of the seized items to include a Toyota Land Crusier PRADO (2018) with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N23 million, Mercdes Benz ML 350 worth N12.6 million, and a Mercedez Benz G63 Brabus with DPV of N60 million.
Also seized are a Rolls Royce (2012) valued at N87.4 million, Toyota Hilux (2018) with DPV of N29.2 million, Armoured Range Rover valued at N16.8 million, Mercedez Benz GLE 450 worth N20.4 million and a Mercedes Benz Actros Truck valued at N8 million.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other items seized included a truck load of 500 bags of 50kg foreign rice with both truck and rice having DPV of N16million, another truck carrying 600 bags of 50kg foreign rice both worth N16.9 million.
A Mercedez Benz ML 350 valued at N5.7 million and a truck car laden with two sets of living room furniture with dinning tables and chairs all worth N46 million were also confiscated.
The unit controller said the furniture were seized as a result of false declaration by the owner to evade payment of duty.
He said smuggling is inimical to the economic growth of the country, adding that those who engaged in the trade were sarbotaging government’s effort to strengthen the economy.
He said that the Nigerian government was doing everything possible as well as granting loans to people for farming, adding that the country has arable land for rice production.
Olusemire appealed to Nigerians to always engage in legitimate businesses as smuggling is a means of short changing the government and loss to the smuggler when caught.
“The Nigeria Customs service is appealing to people to desist from smuggling and engage in legal businesses.
“Smugglers should stop wasting their money and efforts because the Customs are determined, focused and well prepared to tackle them from any angle they apply,” he said.
Olusemire expressed concern on reasons people would use millions of naira to buy exotic cars, but find it difficult to pay duties on them.
He advised those who wanted to buy cars or import any item to be properly informed by visiting any Customs formation information desk to know how to go about it.
He called on the media to assist the service by disseminating information on the dangers of smuggling, saying time had come for smugglers to speak to their conscience for the nation to move forward.