In his maiden press briefing upon assuming office in Western Marine Command Comptroller OA Salefu enumerated different levels of success in the repression of smuggling in the command.
The Controller who was in a high spirit while addressing newsmen reiterated different parts of the laws of the land that empowers the Nigerian Customs in line with its operation.
Citing the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Salefu made it clear that the mandate of the Command which is to suppress smuggling in the South-West waterways is non-negotiable.
According to Selefu, improper importation of foreign parboiled rice has been banned since 2016 and the law has not changed ever since. Consequently, any unlawful importation or exportation of this item is liable to forfeiture.
Furthermore, the unlawful movement of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) across land borders and waterways from Nigeria to other countries contrary to allowed trade restrictions is liable to forfeiture under the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap C45 LFN 2004 as amended.
Narrating the incidences of seizures made by the Western Marine Command in the period under review, that is January to March 2023, Comptroller Salefu put it at 15 together with a Cumulative Duty Paid Value of One Hundred and Ten Million, One hundred and Ninety-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty-four naira, Fifty Kobo (#10,195,934.50) only.
In a broad overview of seizures made so far in 2023, Comptroller Salefu stated that One thousand Five Hundred and Nineteen (1,519) 50 kg of Foreign Parboiled Rice and Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-five (8,825) litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) contained in four hundred and Sixty-Eight (468) kegs of 25 litres each.
Other seized items include: seven (700) hundred pairs of foreign used shoes, twenty (20) used foreign ladies’ bags, eighty-eight (88) cartons of Caro White cream (toning cream), fifty (50) pairs of expired vehicle tyres, three (3)outboard boat engines, and one (1) water pumping machine.
At the moment of this release, it was gathered that at least five suspects have been arrested and are on administrative bail as they await the time that charges would be proffered against them in court.
Comptroller Salefu appreciated the Nigerian Navy especially NNS Beecroft for its excellent partnership with the Command whenever the need arose.
He extolled the quality leadership of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) whose administration provided the Command with four additional boats which comprised two gunboats and two logistics boats.
He said further that most of the Command’s achievements in quelling smuggling would not have been possible without the cooperation of their host communities.
In his closing remarks, Salefu warned smugglers to desist from all forms of economic sabotage and become law-abiding citizens noting that the Command will not rest on its oars until criminal elements in the area are stamped out completely.