The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has justified its recent raids of auto marts across the country saying the exercise is in line with the extant law.
Besides the NCS challenged any auto dealer who bribed customs any officer before getting their vehicles cleared to come forward and name the officer, saying such officer would not only be dismissed but prosecuted.
The Public Relations Officer of the service, Mr. Joseph Attah, told our correspondent in Lagos that the recent raid of car shops was in line with Section 147 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) which empowers it to search shops suspected to be having smuggled items.
He disclosed that over 3000 vehicles have been seized across the country between January and now.
Daily Trust had exclusively reported last week how some auto dealers grumbled over alleged rip-off and harassment by officials of the customs who raided their shops in commando style in search of smuggled vehicles.
However, the customs’ spokesman who justified the action said the raid was to ascertain the genuineness of vehicles displayed at car shops, if they were imported through the approved route and if the right duty has been paid. According to him, many of the importers came through unapproved routes. He said any vehicle imported through unapproved route was a smuggled one.
He stressed that no customs officer would disturb an importer who has done the right thing even as he denied allegations of extortion leveled against the officers and men of the service.
Attah said, “The question is who is extorting who and for what reason are you being extorted? Do the right thing. Those shouting about extortion are people who want to do the wrong thing.
“The present government policy prohibits importation through the land borders and our responsibility as the Nigeria Customs Service is to implement the policy of government. Whereas some of these smugglers are arrested at the border, any smuggler who beats customs officers at the border is still subject to arrest wherever or whenever the vehicle is found,” he said.