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N1.2bn Smuggled Textiles Seized at China Town in Nigeria

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Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), yesterday announ-ced seizure of  N1.2billon  worth of  textile materials at China Town,  a popular  market run by Chinese nationals in Lagos.

Comptroller, Federal Operat-ions Unit (FOU) of the Customs, Alhaji Umar Daura,  who described  the market as a haven for smugglers of textiles, said  the smugglers, who are mainly foreigners, will be punished for circumventing the nation's laws on import prohibition.

He said the market, raided  towards the end of December will remain closed   until all the offending goods were identified and confiscated.

Reviewing activities of the Unit for  last year, he said  it has been a success story, with 1,437 seizures valued at N1.8 billion.

During the period, he said 59 suspects  were arrested, and will be made to face the consequences of their action, adding that there were six casualties, some of which were fatal, while at least two officers died in action. He said the Service will continue to fight smugglers until they abandon their illegal trade.

"Our  onslaught against smugglers of textiles between December  2005 and January is an eloquent testimony that we are not yielding but are strengthened by our conviction that smugglers must be brought to their knees in this zone," he said.

He said China Town fell, because of the determination  of his Unit to  bring the smugglers to their knees.

He warned that this year,  his Command will not tolerate any manner of smuggling, adding that  a war line  has been drawn. Daura said  the unit   recently   seized 576 bales of textile materials  valued at N17.3million found in a warehouse.

According to him,  there was another seizure of a  20ft. container at Ijora, Apapa area by the unit, both of which have been   transfered to the Government warehouse.

Daura  advised importers to shun smuggling or continue to suffer the wrath of the Service in the renewed war against economic crime.

He said with the ECOWAS Common External Tariff, Nigerian importers who do genuine business do not have to  divert their goods  to neighbouring countries, since there is a common tariff regime.


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