By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The Nigeria Customs Service Sokoto/Kebbi/ Zamfara Area Command in a joint operation with the1 Brigade, Nigeria Army, Sokoto has discovered fleet of several brands of vehicles with duty value worth N196, 709,295 million at a fenced location in Sokoto state.
The vehicles which were suspected to be smuggled into the country were discovered at Ruggar Wauru Area of Sokoto state where they were stored.
They include: 20 units of Lexus GX 470 SUV vehilces and 28 units of Toyota Avensus.
However, there were speculations that the vehicles were said to to be stocked up by a prominent politician in the state ahead of 2019.
According to a source” “As for the total number of cars seized, I cannot be very certain for now. But, they are all expensive cars, and should be more than 150.”
Briefing newsmen in Sokoto Tuesday, the Area Controller, Mr Nasir Ahmed said the seized vehicles were suspected to have been smuggled into the country through un approved routes to avoid payment of duties on them and other levies to the federal government.
” The operation was carried out on Wednesday on 12th April, 2018 based on credible intelligence led by DSC Yahaya and the command strikeforce team”, he explained.
According to the Area Commander, “the vehicles had been moved from the location and deposited at the command’s headquarters in Sokoto.”
Ahmed, however, said while further investigations were on, urged owners of the vehicles to come forward with valid documents else, the items will be liable to seizure and subsequent forfeiture to the federal government after 30 days.
While stressing that being in possession of smuggled items is an offence under section 3 of the Customs and Excise Management Act(CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 , Ahmed said the Area command would not compromise it’s operations at ensuring that smuggling of any kind was curbed.
However, the Area Controller said the command had within the first quarter of 2018 , seized a total of 9 vehicles with duty paid value of over N25 million.
” We also seized 73 Bales of second hand clothes with duty paid value of N3.33 million while it handed over to NAFDAC a total of 2,274 packets of Tramadol Hydrochloride tablets 225mg as one of the seizures by the command’s boarder patrol unit at Illela boarder station accordingly.”
However, the NCS Area Controller said investigations were ongoing to get to the real owners of the impounded vehicles in the service custody.