The Nigeria Customs Service, Seme Command, has released a suspected car smuggler using a diplomatic plate number and 2015 fake National Youth Service Corps identification card as a ploy to beat customs officers.
Abdul Umar was arrested on Tuesday along the Seme border while trying to smuggle into the country one Renault Megane with duty paid value of N522,970.47
Saidu Abdullahi, the command’s spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES the suspect was granted administrative bail on Thursday but investigations are continuing.
“He was released yesterday (Thursday) while we are still investigating to unravel the real owner the smuggled car is,” said Mr Abdullahi.
While speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Umar had said the owner of the vehicle had come to meet the customs authorities. But Mr Abdullahi said nobody had come forward yet.
“If anybody had come with necessary documents, then the matter would have been resolved. But as I speak with you, we have not seen anybody.”
At the time of his arrest, Mr Umar, an indigene of Kaduna State, was said to be working with some influential Nigerians, adding that he had the mobile number of the Inspector General of Police.
Mohammed Uba, Seme Area Controller of Customs, said when he was arrested, the suspect had a letter containing numbers which stated, “call these numbers, otherwise call the IG.”
“When we discovered this, we alerted the enforcement unit for investigation.
“In the nutshell, ID card, telephone numbers and calling embassy is not part of Customs clearing process. Smugglers can use a lot of modalities to make sure they commit these atrocities.
While questioning with the suspect, he denied having the police IG’s number or working for any influential Nigerian.
“I am a corper of 2015 batch but have not collected my NYSC certificate,” said Mr Umar.
“I have problem with NYSC that is why have not submit my ID card in order to collect the certificate. I didn’t say I know the IG. I only assisted the owner of the car to pass through the border.
“The owner of the car is around. I don’t know anything about the numbers and diplomatic plate number on the card.”
While speaking with journalists on Wednesday, Mr Mohammed said his officers within two months had seized 21 exotic cars along border ways, adding that they had contravened importation procedures.
“Similarly, the intensified operation of the enforcement unit has drastically reduced smuggling activities to the barest minimum,” he said.
“So far, we have seized 4,745 bags of 50kg foreign rice which is equivalent to over eight trailer trucks of rice worth N85,504,000; 27 jerry cans of vegetable oil of 25litres each, 34 bags of sugar.”
Among the seized items were 68 parcels of Tramadol, 10 parcels of Cannabis, 19 boxes of frozen seafood, 24 cartons of Maggi seasoning.
“The Command has so far generated the sum of N260,684,226.91,” Mr Mohammed said.