Ag. CAC, Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Lagos, DC U.B Yahaya

The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service has reacted to recent media reports alleging that its operatives embarked upon a clampdown of business outfits in Lagos, saying that the command has not shut any warehouse or delayed cargo on transit unduly.

Acting Customs Area Controller in charge of the command, Deputy Comptroller U.B Yahaya, in a statement Thursday, said that the command as an anti-smuggling arm of the service is also committed to trade facilitation and would therefore not contemplated shutting any business outfit nor delay any good on transit.

He noted that said the officers were on a routine anti-smuggling patrol in line with the core mandate of the command and also verify possible evasion of duty payments with a view to recovering revenue, adding that some business owners, who were affected by the closure came up with relevant documents and had their businesses re-opened upon payment of the Demand Notice for unpaid duty, while some of them have fled their business premises

The statement reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to a recent news article where it was alleged that our officers sealed business premises and demanded N2m bribe.

“For clarity and putting the records straight, the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of Nigeria Customs Service has as part of its mandate to patrol, intercept suspected smuggled items and upon reasonable suspicion, access warehouses being used by smugglers and duty evaders.

“We also support in the recovery of revenue by identifying shortfalls in duty payments, issue demand notices and ensure payments are made to government coffers.

“These routine operations have paid off in most cases as we have succeeded in uncovering smuggled items like dangerous drugs in the past. 

“We have also in the course of these operations that are intelligence driven, recovered revenues for government as duty payment shortfalls have been recovered through demand notices issued after our discoveries. We wish to state categorically that no warehouse or cargo on transit has been sealed or delayed by our operatives unjustifiably as we don’t in anyway constitute a barrier to trade facilitation.

“Some concerned or affected business owners have been coming up with either proof of revenue payments, while we issue DN for shortfalls after our investigations. A few others have fled their premises refusing to show proof of duty payment and not allowing our officers access to evaluate the contents of their premises

“As an anti- smuggling outfit, our resolve for enforcement is resolute and we are not involved in the demand for bribes as alleged in the article. We challenge anyone making this allegation to come forward and identify customs officers demanding money from them.

We shall remain uncompromising in the fight against smuggling, duty evasion and other vices that contravenes the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN . We wish to restate that genuine business persons who have not acted in violation of government import and export guidelines and have paid appropriate duties have nothing to worry about.