- Comptroller Yusuf displaying the cartridges
In its anti-smuggling operations, the Customs Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘C’, Owerri said it intercepted 5,200 live ammunition (cartridges of 30GR 70mm calibre) and various other contraband items with a duty paid value (DPV) of N378.8 million between November 23rd and December 27th, 2020.
The cartridges, said to have been intercepted on “credible and timely intelligence” on December 13, 2020 along Nwezenyi Ikom Road in Cross River State, were concealed in other goods and household items in a Toyota Sienna passenger vehicle.
The unit also recovered N7.6 million from demand notices (DNs) on general goods from the seaports that had evaded the right duties through false declaration or transfer of value, bringing everything to approximately N386.3 million for the month under review.
Speaking on the ammunition, Comptroller Yusuf Lawal expressed worries at the trend in arms and ammunition smuggling using different routes, with reference to the interceptions in Lagos in 2017, Kwara in 2018 and just recently in Kebbi.
“Only God knows what would have happened if these cartridges got to their destination unchecked, considering the fragile security of the nation – from armed robbery, kidnapping and banditry to insurgency,” a statement from the Command Public Relations Officer, Jerry Attah, quoted Yusuf to say.
He explained that the seized ammunition falls under schedule 4 of the Common External Tariff, which importation is absolutely prohibited. Other seized items included 1,215x50kg foreign parboiled rice, mostly concealed in bags of beans, maize and groundnut seeds, and 38 jumbo bales of used clothing.
There were also 204 cartons of imported tomatoes and four exotic vehicles, including one new bullet proof Toyota Land Cruiser 2019 model (without end-user certificate), two fairly used Toyota Hilux 2016 and 2015 respectively, and a Mercedes Benz ML350 2015, as well as controlled pharmaceutical products. Three suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures.
Meanwhile, Comptroller Yusuf attributed the achievement to the leadership style of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) management team for recognising hard work, dedication and commitment, adding: “Without the management motivation and necessary logistics support, we won’t have attained this feat within this short period.”
Yusuf commended the commitment, doggedness and diligence of the officers and men of FOU ‘C’ for thwarting the dare-devil smugglers/economic saboteurs, who used different methods to deceive the NCS.
He further charged them to be more professional and diligent in their statutory responsibilities, stating: “We believe we have what it takes to do more in this new year. Consequently, let me use this special privilege to call on the general public to join the Customs in the advocacy against smuggling.”