By Chiazo Ogbolu
A two-man syndicate who specialises in forging documents for clearing of imported vehicles has been busted by operatives of Federal Operations Unit Zone A Nigeria Customs Service
The syndicate was busted following arrest of one of the members suspects with a 2007 Mercedes Benz model along Ajilete-Idiroko Road, Ogun State, acting Controller in charge of the unit, Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, said this at a news conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
He added that the arrest of the suspect led to an in-depth investigation into the activities of the syndicate and unveiling of their criminal activities.
“The arrest led to the unravelling of over 600 pictures of vehicles domiciled in Benin Republic awaiting to undergo forged clearing process by the same criminal syndicate.
“Items recovered from the suspects in the course of arrest and investigation are customs valuation stamp, Customs Duty Chart Book on vehicles, customs documents and vehicle registration documents all fakes.
“Others include: four computer monitors, three computer processing units, one keyboard, and one printer,” he said.
Ejibunu said that in their resolve to safeguard the national economy and prevent revenue loss, officers on legitimate duties were ambushed and attacked by suspected smugglers and their sympathiser.
He said that the smugglers used guns, machetes, charms and other dangerous weapons in carrying out their criminal operations.
Ejibunu noted that the most recent incident of such assault against their officers was the one arrested using charms to attack personnel at Owoyele Igbogila Road in Ogun State.
“While I discourage and call for their repentance, any act of recalcitrance will call for the full wrath of the law on any one found culpable,” Ejibunu said.
He, however, decried that smuggling had continued to impact on activities of locally manufactured goods and encourage acts of criminality in society.
Ejibunu also said that 18 suspects arrested in connection with some of these offences in February were currently being investigated.
He said that notable among the wares seized in February for non-compliance with the extant Customs laws were 5,328 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice and 1×40 ft container with 512 cartons of generators, among others.
The acting comptroller said that these goods had a total duty paid value of N501.5 million.
Ejibunu said that the sum of N103.6 million was collected following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under-payments, and wrong classification.
“Let me use this medium to assure the business community that this Unit is ever ready to encourage compliant traders by facilitating their legitimate businesses as enshrined in the extant laws.
“However, recalcitrant traders are strongly advised to desist from violating the extant regulations or be ready to face the full wrath of the law,” he said.