By Anthony Nwachukwu
In connection with the smuggling of various items, including Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), the Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ (FOUA) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it has arrested 23 suspects at different places.
Parading the suspects and displaying the seized items before newsmen in Lagos, the Ag. Controller, DC Hussein Ejibunu, disclosed that the command also collected N89.347 million as revenue within the month of March 2022.
In addition to the PMS, the seizures, with duty paid value of N767. 633 million, included 68,225 litres of PMS, 6,747x50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice (about 11 trailers), 2,150 cartons of frozen poultry products, 526 bales of second-hand clothing, 447 parcels (2,056kg) of Cannabis Sativa (Indian hemp) and 927 pieces of used pneumatic tyres.
Piqued by the smugglers’ preference for breaking the law, Ejibunu assured that the unit would not relent but always strengthen its 24-hour patrols aimed at foiling and intercepting smuggling, seizures and arrest suspects.
According to him, this will help to sustain economic protection and prevent dangerous goods from entering the country through the South West region.
He flayed the gruesome murder of Inspector A. Onwuegbuzie while on official duties in Ogun, stating: “The fight against smuggling is becoming more and more intense and fierce due to increased level of crime. Smugglers are more determined than ever before to confront officers on patrol, even unprovoked.
“This new wave of the daring attitude of smugglers has claimed the lives of many officers, the latest being the hacking to death with a machete of Inspector of Customs Onwuegbuzie A. along Senator Road in Ogun State after making a seizure on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
“The officer was not only gruesomely murdered but his body dumped in a deep pit.”
Also, following the timely arrival of other patrol teams, three suspects were arrested in connection with the murder; 78x50kg bags foreign parboiled rice and six motorcycles were equally seized.
Listing some of the worse smuggling activities and attack on officers within the month, he disclosed that “on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, a patrol team uncovered several rice barns in a thick bush behind Dangote Cement Factory in Ogun State.
“The discovery, which was made at night, triggered gunshots from smugglers at officers. The officers never budged, and in the morning evacuated 845 bags of foreign parboiled rice to the station.
“Another attack took place on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, along Oyan-Oni-Chain, Idere, at Ibarapa area of Oyo State, after the seizure of 105x50kg bags of foreign parboiled. During that attack, which was repelled, a fleeing smuggler dropped his locally made pump action rifle with four cartridges, which the team brought to the station.
“In the same vein, a team that intercepted two Toyota Camry vehicles laden with 86x50kg bags of smuggled parboiled rice along Owode/Idiroko road in Ogun State was again attacked by smugglers.”