By-Tola Adenubi, Lagos
Ahead of the February 25, Presidential and National Assembly elections, the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted smuggled military camouflage, petroleum products, and other items valued at N517,918,790 in Lagos and Ogun State. This is even as the Unit handed over 1,163kg of Cannabis Sativa worth N93, 040, 000.00 to officials of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement (NDLEA) as part of its seizure in January.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday, Acting Controller of the unit, Hussein Ejibunu, said the smuggled military wares seized in January were in 68 pieces while the petroleum products is 47,750 litres of premium motor spirit.
Other seizures made in January 2023 were 5,481 units of 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, equivalent to over 9 trailer loads; 314 pieces of used tyres; 11 units of used motorcycles; 13 units of used vehicles and 450 units of 106 kg drums of carbide on detention.
According to Ejibunu, “We did not only re-strategize our operations, but our officers are urged to be more professional and have keyed into the Service’s Standard Operations Procedure (SOP); aimed at facilitating legitimate trade.
“In doing this, we assure all compliant traders and importers that they have nothing to fear. While the recalcitrant ones are advised to desist because we are better mobilized with high morale to arrest, prosecute, and make them lose their wares in forfeiture to the federal government.
“Seizures recorded in January 2023 are a reflection of officers’ commitment to duty, and no compromise posture in the discharge of our statutory responsibilities; aimed at protecting the national economy and preventing the importation of prohibited and harmful goods.
“These goods were intercepted along the border corridors of the South-West for contravening different Customs laws. Eleven suspects were arrested in connection with some of the wares, while the Federal High Court convicted three people for smuggling.
“Considering the spate of insecurity across the country, and the upcoming general elections, it can be postulated that the importation of Indian Hemp and military camouflage could be used to fuel crimes and electoral violence by unpatriotic elements. while the former is under prohibition, the latter is under the control and supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser, which requires End-User Certificates.
“Members of the public are hereby, enjoined to key into the prevailing security concerns by providing useful, and timely information that would expose and lead to the arrest of the enemies of the state,” he said.
The Controller said N86,117,398.50 was recovered as revenue from the unit into the federation account through the issuance of demand notices (DN) on Customs duties that were discovered to be underpaid by importers.