|Customs C-G Inde and Immigration C-G, David Parrandang inspecting the seized goods|
In Kano state, textile traders, textile workers and the general public are on tenterhooks as the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) awaits federal government’s directive on allegedly smuggled textile materials worth N315bn.
There is palpable tension in Kantin Kwari market, the acclaimed largest textile market in West Africa, following the seizure, by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), of N315 billion worth of textile materials allegedly smuggled into the country by Chinese nationals.
The allegation is rife in Kano that Chinese smugglers of such materials connive with local traders to perpetrate the act.
Customs officials commenced, on 8 May this year, confiscation of textile materials considered to have been smuggled into the country. During the exercise which lasted three weeks, the NCS officials sealed a total of 75 warehouses stocked with textile materials estimated at N315bn, while some Chinese nationals were arrested. Since the commencement of the raid, Customs officials have been laying siege to warehouses in the state, a development that has put owners of the warehouses on the run.
Speaking during his visit to Kano penultimate Tuesday, Comptroller-General of the NCS, Mr Abdullahi Dikko Inde said the sealed warehouses contained contraband textile materials smuggled in from China.
“I initiated the raid of the warehouses from my office in Abuja, based on information, in order to salvage our economy. Goods in one warehouse there alone are worth N4.2bn, and if you multiply that by 75, you will get the worth of the seizure we have made.
“If you recall, during the Obasanjo regime, over 200 trailers loaded with contraband were burnt here in Kano and over 400 others were burnt in Lagos state. I will report this situation to the federal government for them to take a decision on it. We are doing our best and they (smugglers) are doing their worst. Even if all 170 million Nigerians are deployed to our borders, they cannot stop smuggling,” he added.
But the traders have deflated the claim of the Customs boss, saying the textile materials were imported through routes NCS officials were aware of. In an interview, the secretary of the Kano State Traders’ Union (KSTU), Alhaji Aliyu Lamin Gwale maintained that importers of the seized textile materials paid all the necessary duties on them.
“It was the closure of the textile factories in Nigeria that pushed us to China and we have been doing this for over 15 years. We have been bringing the textile materials through the only and known person that the Customs are aware of.
“We are surprised that suddenly they went after our warehouses and have sealed a total of 75 so far.
This has crippled businesses in Kano and our people have been exposed to untold hardship,” Alhaji Gwale said.
The Chairman of the Kanti Kwari Traders Association, Alhaji Liti Kulkul declared that contrary to the allegation being bandied about, a huge chunk of the seized items belongs to members of his association and not Chinese traders.
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