The Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Lagos of the Nigeria Customs Service has warned that it would jettison its primary responsibility of fighting smuggling and other related economic sabotage in a bid to facilitate trade.

Customs Area Controller in charge of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Garba, who spoke in a Lagos during an interactive session with some members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria MARAN, said that the command is more than ever before committed to the facilitation of legitimate trade in the country.

He however warned that in doing this, the command would not ignore its primary duty of checking anti-smuggling activities of some unscrupulous elements in the society, which he said pose grave dangers to national economy and security.

He cited that recent several seizures of arms consignments at the Tin Can Island command of the service, which he argued was an indication that these unscrupulous elements are not relenting in their illicit trade, which is also a clarion call for the command to step up its anti-smuggling drive.

The comptroller however pledged that in stepping up its anti-smuggling campaign, the command has been very careful not to inhibit Federal Government’s drive towards facilitating legitimate trade, which he argued would help boost national economy in the interest of the entire citizenry.

According to him, by the structure and mode of operation of the operatives of the command, they do not just go and begin to search or conduct fresh examinations on containers and other consignments already cleared and released by other sister command, pointing out that the operatives rely more on intelligence reports and profiling.

He further disclosed that even when such intelligence reports are received from the numerous informants, the operatives do not just swoop on the containers or consignments rather such intelligence reports are sieved and profiled in order not to be misled or mismanage such intelligence.

He said: “There are three types of informants which include the patriotic ones, those on a revenge mission and those that have been schemed out and so each time we receive any intelligence from our informants, we process the information swiftly before we act and more often than, our assessment of such information have yielded good results”.

It was further gathered that the command is further expanding its intelligence gathering network in line with its anti-smuggling campaign, especially in view of the approaching Yuletide season, which is synonymous with smuggling activities.

The CAC warned that though the command is not a revenue generating command, it would ensure that the Federal Government gets all the collectible import duty revenue that should accrue to it by ensuring that duty is paid on every consignment through its anti-smuggling drive.

On the use of trucks owned by reputable companies by the drivers to carry unwholesome goods, the Comptroller disclosed that the command tries to establish whether the management of the company is an accomplice in the carriage of such goods and if not the truck is released on compassionate ground on the condition that the company must produce the driver if he is at large.

He also foreclosed any case of preferential treatment for big or multinational companies and smaller ones, insisting that the same treatment goes for all firms irrespective of their sizes or owners.

On the seized 56 exotic bullet proof cars from a home in Ikoyi and some car shops in Festac areas of Lagos State last week, the FOU Lagos boss disclosed that it would return the cars to their owners if they come up with proofs of payment of appropriate import duty, which will show that they were not smuggled.

He also insisted that similar exotic vehicles earlier seized by the command earlier in the year are still in the custody of the command at its garage in Ikeja, insisting that they have not been auctioned contrary to speculations.

Recall that operatives of the command had last week impounded a total of 56 bullet proof luxury Sports Utility Vehicles hidden in two residential apartments in  Ikoyi and Festac areas of Lagos.

Details of the seizure show that while 51 of the exotic cars were hidden in one obscure home in Ikoyi, five others were seized from a car shop located in Festac.

It was gathered the operations were carried out based on intelligence reports, even as nobody has shown up to claim ownership of the seized cars, which include 40 units of 2017 models of cars ranging from Toyota Prado Jeeps, Lexus Jeeps, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Camry, Coaster Bus, Toyota Hiace Buses, among several others, which are currently under detention awaiting relevant customs documentations from the dealers within a grace of one month.