LAGOS – The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Strike Force Unit, Zone A, on Wednesday, said it intercepted 1,700 cartons of fake tomato paste worth N50million imported into the country illegally.
The federal government had in 2019 banned the importation of canned/tinned tomato paste, powder, or concentrate and increased tariffs on imports of tomato concentrate from 5% to 50% in a bid to ensure that they are properly certified by the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and to ensure their wholesomeness.
The ban on imported tomato paste was because 91.1% of the imported tomato paste was “unsatisfactory” because of the sugar content and its increased risk of cancer for regular consumers of the products.
However, speaking during a press briefing in Lagos, the coordinator of the CGC Strike Force, Zone A, DC Mohammed Yusuf, said aside from the the fake tomato paste which worth N50.7million, it seized other products such as smuggled foreign parboiled rice; used clothing; Premium Motor Spirit (PMS); smuggled vehicles all worth N390millon.
According to him, a pump action rifle and a locally made short gun with cartridges, used tires which threatened the nation’s economy and national security were also intercepted.
He said, “foreign tomato paste; used clothing; importation of vehicles through the land borders, used tyres, arms, and ammunition without end-user certificates among others, are all import prohibition which threatens our collective economy.
“The following are the seizures recorded within the period under review, 1500 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice; 839 bales of used clothes; 3,525 litres of Premium Motor Spirit; 900 bags of Cement used to conceal rice;1,670 Mumrite Tomato Paste; 500 Mumrite Sardine.
“Others are Smuggled Vehicles; One pump action, one locally fabricated pistol, and 14 live cartridges. These seizures recorded within the period have a cumulative Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N390million.”
However, the CGC Strike Force coordinator said that the unit was mostly concerned about protecting local industries in the country, as well as national security.
“Illicit goods imported into the country with their attending effects mostly end up either in our homes or in the neighborhood causing a wide range of issues ranging from social to a psychological crisis.
“Our efforts at ensuring that the local industries are protected from unhealthy foreign competition and other forms of social security require a strong partnership between our operatives and members of the public in areas of information sharing and moral support,” Yusuf said
The union boss also warned smugglers, saying the unit would make the zone unbearable during the ember period.
“In the aspect of revenue, the sum of N748.6million was made through documentary checks and issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have been short-paid. It is sad to note that some Nigerians would pay all duties and levies payable to the Customs authorities of other countries they import from, while on the other hand, they make conscious efforts to evade such payments into the federal coffers.
“As we are in the last quarter of the year, approaching the yuletide period, where recalcitrant traders and importers’ quest to make more profits through smuggling is at its peak. I would use this opportunity to appeal to importers and agents to be patriotic by making sincere declarations and paying their duties accurately.
“Let me use this medium to warn none compliant traders to desist from such because we have strategically mobilized, and deployed our personnel to do the needful. I wish to reiterate at this point that, unpatriotic importers/agents culpable shall be dealt with by the dictates of the law,” he added.
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