By Anthony Nwachukwu
Following its sustained anti-smuggling campaign, the Federal Operations Unit Zone A (FOU ‘A’) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it seized goods with approximate duty paid value of N4.6 billion and recovered N192 million in January 2022.
The items included 9,697x50kg and 297x 25kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, 3,173x5kg cartons of basmati rice, 17 units of used vehicles, 1,076x25litres premium motor spirit (PMS) and 195 bales and 68 sacks of used clothes.
Others are 51 parcels (39.5kg) of Indian hemp, 2,535 pieces of used tyres, 206 used compressor, 7,557,400 tablets of 225mg Tramadol, 7 units used motorcycles, 21 bales of new bedsheets and 57 units used plasma TV.
Showcasing the seized items to newsmen in Lagos Wednesday, Ag Controller Hussein Ejibunu disclosed that four of his men lost their lives during anti-smuggling drives in 2021, while 23 suspected smugglers were arrested, 18 in the unit’s custody and five on administrative bail.
He condemned the killing of customs officers by smugglers and their sympathisers, stating that the law will neither spare perpetrators nor would the attacks prevent the unit from its legitimate duties.
Ejibunu assured that having received logistics upgrade from the NCS management, the unit’s anti-smuggling and revenue recovery drives will increase this year.
According to him, “while many travelled to enjoy the yuletide season, our operatives were out there in the field to prevent illicit items from being smuggled into the country. From 23rd December, 2021 till date, a lot more has been seized.
“Despite the ups and downs, the unit waxed on positively in the fight against smuggling. It is only regrettable that we lost four gallant officers in the line of duty that same year.”
“If there is anything the unit will not condone, it is to lose any of our officers to smugglers this year. New approach and tactics kept strictly to our chest will be deployed this time. Smugglers are by this warned to stay away from smuggling.”
He added: “Our zeal to perform even better this year is predicated on the untiring support we get from the CGC, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), and his management (team) by way of welfare, capacity building, insurance scheme and logistics.
“We are equally well equipped with relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act CAP C45 LFN 2004 as amended to perform our legitimate duties – patrol freely, arrest and prosecute anyone seen to obstruct officers from their duties, power to seize, enter any premises without search warrant and many more.”