Customs arrests car smuggling group leader

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo

The Nigeria Customs Service has arrested the head of a car smuggling group, Shuaibu Kolo, who was notorious for forging documents issued by Customs to smuggle vehicles from the Benin Republic into Nigeria.

The Acting Customs Controller in charge of Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, disclosed on Tuesday while addressing journalists in Ikeja, Lagos.

The Punch reported that the controller said the suspect was arrested along Ajilete-Idiroko Road in Ogun State with a 2007 Mercedes Benz.

In his words, “In continuation of our onslaught against smuggling and economic saboteurs, this unit made a major breakthrough in the bursting and arrest of a two-man syndicate that forged Customs clearing documents. Sequel to the arrest of one suspect, Shuaibu Kolo, with a 2007 Mercedes Benz along Ajilete-Idiroko Road of Ogun State.”

Inquiries, according to Ejibunu, revealed over 600 images of vehicles registered in the Benin Republic that were awaiting a fake clearance procedure from the same criminal organisation.

“An in-depth investigation that led to the unravelling of over 600 pictures of vehicles domiciled in the Benin Republic waiting to undergo a forged clearing process by the same criminal syndicate,” he said.

He further said that some of the items recovered are a fake Customs valuation stamp; a fake Customs duty chart book on vehicles; fake Customs documents and vehicle registration documents; four computer monitors; three computer processing units; one keyboard and one printer.

In addition to the arrest made, it was reported that the FOU controller arrested 18 suspects who were linked with different offences in February 2023.

According to Ejibunu, the unit seized nine trailers containing imported bags of rice, 29,875 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, among other items with a duty-paid value of N50 million in the previous month.

He said, “5,328 bags of foreign rice 50kg each equivalent to nine trailers; 1 x 40 ft container said to contain 512 cartons of generators on detention for the false declaration; 1 x 40 ft container said to contain 2,298 cartons of half gasoline engines on detention for the false declaration; 1 x 40 ft container said to contain charcoal meant for export; 29,875 litres of premium motor spirit; 283 cartons of foreign frozen poultry products; 75 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa and five units of foreign-used vehicles.”

He claimed the Customs has collected a total of N103m following the issuance of demand notices to defaulters in its quest to prevent revenue loss through under-valuation, under-payments and wrong classification.

The Customs leader lamented that smugglers have been attacking members of the team while they carried out their duties.

“Sadly, however, in our resolve to safeguard the national economy and prevent revenue loss, officers on legitimate duties are ambushed and attacked by suspected smugglers and their sympathisers, using guns, machetes, charms and other dangerous items. The most recent incident of these kinds of assaults on officers was the one arrested using charms to attack personnel at Owoyele-Igbogila Road of Ogun State,” he explained.

“However, recalcitrant traders are strongly advised to desist from violating the extant regulations or be ready to face the full wrath of the law,” Ejibunu stated.

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