Five Nigeriens have been arrested by National Security operatives for allegedly importing seven jumbo-size bails of Ghanaian pirated textiles into the country from China through Togo, with the connivance of Customs and police officials.

The suspects, identified as Musa Idda, Mukaila Ibrahim, Mustapha Assan, Ali Abudu and Issa Abudu, were arrested in Sekondi on Monday, following a tip-off and close monitoring of their activities by National Security.

The suspects were said to have confessed that apart from giving out some wax prints to police and Customs officials at the Aflao Border Post, they also paid less than half of the estimated duty on their goods to the state.

They also concealed DVD players, T-shirts, male and female underwear, among others, in the bails of textiles and could not provide any evidence of payment of taxes on such goods to customs officials.

The arrest of the suspects came on the heels of efforts by the national anti piracy task force to prevent pirated local textiles from being sold on the market.

Last August, members of the Local Textile Designers Task Force who went to the 31st December Market at Makola to seize what were considered illegal prints were chased away by the traders.

The task force was established in 2010 and given the mandate to monitor the movement of smuggled fabrics, target relevant warehouses and seize for destruction pirated and smuggled textile prints to deter the dealers and others who may be tempted to deal in those goods.

Workers of local textile manufacturing companies on Tuesday abandoned their factories and stormed the central business district at Okaishie in Accra to protest against trading in pirated local textile products.

According to officials of National Security, the suspects claimed to have paid GH¢1,200 for all the consignment and officials of the Ghana Revenue Service (GRA) in Takoradi confirmed to National Security that the goods were seriously undervalued.

They said the suspects further claimed that their easy passage through the border was facilitated by an arrangement between them and the GRA officials there.

Speaking to the media, the leader of the importers, Issa Abudu, said they got help from officials of the GRA because there were other checkpoints on the road from the Volta Region through the Greater Accra and Central regions to the Western Region and the tax officers usually helped them by underestimating the value of duties to be paid to the state so they could settle custom and police officials along the route from Aflao to Takoradi.

The sale of pirated textiles has become the bane of the textile industry in the country. From over 40 textile firms that employed more than 25,000 people in the last two decades, the country now has only four textile factories employing less than 4,000 people.

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