By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Despite the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, the Kwara state Command of the Nigerian Customs Service has generated the sum of N6.96bn into the coffers of the federal government in 2020, representing 86 percent of the year annual target as against the total sum of N2.4bn generated in 2019.
Briefing journalists on Tuesday in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Ahmed Hussaini Bello, said since his posting in 2019 as the pioneer Customs Area Controller
, the Command has “so far generated and remitted the sum of N9.3bn into the federation account.”
Bello adduced the reasons for not meeting the stipulated last year budget to Covid-19 pandemic that came with lockdown, EndSARS protests and partial border closure, including placing temporary embargo on movement of goods and persons through the land borders nationwide.
He recalled the unfortunate 2020 episode when the Command came under attack by hoodlums disguised as EndSARS protesters with an obvious intention of looting and setting the Command and government properties ablaze, adding that during the mob action, two of the officers of the Command were injured, while 27 motorcycles and two Keke Napeps meant to move goods out of the Command were seized and two suspects also arrested.
On anti-smuggling, he disclosed that the anti-smuggling operations recorded a total of 84 seizures with the duty paid value of N345m as against the same period in 2019 with only 14 seizures with duty paid value of N42.6m.
According to him, the seizures include 3,551 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 51 used vehicles of various make, 3,543 kg of marijuana, 225 kegs of vegetable oil and 30 Jerri cans of PMS.
The Comptroller reiterated his commitment to ensuring that smuggling activities become unattractive through vigorous community and public enlightenment, sensitisation on the dangers of smuggling and its impact on economy and national security.
He appealed to well meaning members of the public who are ready to engage in legitimate business to come forward for clarification or visit the Command headquarters for trade facilitation and other enquiries.
To the recalcitrant ones bent on engaging in the illicit business of smuggling, Bello warned that they would not escape the long arm of the law, adding, “we shall ensure that maximum revenue collection is realised as directed by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Handed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) on suppression of smuggling activities , blockade of revenue leakages without compromising national interest and security of the nation.”