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The Federal Operations Unit (F.O.U.) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in Ikeja, said on Wednesday in Lagos that the service was legally empowered to intercept any suspicious container or goods anywhere in the country.

Its Controller, Comptroller Garba Mohammed made the remark while briefing journalists in his office.

He said that powers to intercept containers and goods anywhere in the country were drawn from the relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA).

“If you consider the number of containers being released daily from the ports and the number of containers we intercept for necessary investigation, you will know that we have high regard for trade facilitation.

“We will impound any suspected container, whether on the highway or in a warehouse,’’ the controller said.

He explained that anti-smuggling operations of the unit would not only increase revenue for government by way of duty payment but would also secure businesses operating legally within the country.

According to him, the recent seizures of choice cars from some car dealers in Lagos testifies to this.

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“Our operations are intelligence-based and if the owners have evidence of duty payment, they should forward such evidence and the vehicles will be released to them.

“Our concern is to execute government policies in support of legitimate trade,’’ Mohammed said.

He, however, advised truck owners to do thorough character checks before engaging drivers for their business concerns.

“Owners must know the drivers they want to employ to be driving their trucks, because any truck used for smuggling will be impounded,’’ Mohammed said.

The controller said that the service would continue with its strategy of enlightening the border communities on the dangers of smuggling.

He said that smuggling posed a major security challenge to the nation and had implications on the national economy.

Mohammed said that the ban on the importation of rice through land borders still remained effective.

According to him, we know that as the year draws to a close, people may scale up smuggling but government is very serious about the ban on rice import through land borders.

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