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Customs intercepts N30b smuggled rice, vehicles at borders

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The Acting Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Usman Yahaya (middle) parading the intercepted contrabands in Lagos.

Barely one month after the Federal Government re-opened the land borders, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A, said it has intercepted foreign parboiled rice, used vehicles, textiles materials as well as Indian hemp worth over N30 billion being smuggled into the country from Benin Republic.

The Acting Customs Area Controller of the zone, Usman Yahaya, said the contrabands were intercepted from January 1, 2021, till date.

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However, insider sources have revealed that the seized items came in through the porous border points manned by Seme, Idiroko and Oyo/Osun Command of the NSC.

According to Yahaya, also intercepted were fake and unregistered pharmaceuticals worth N51 Million along Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, as well as cannabis smuggled from Ghana to Iseyin, Oyo state.

He said: “After the opening of the Seme border by the Federal Government, the smugglers thought they could cash in to perpetrate their evil acts. But the unit left them with heavy losses as evidenced in the seizures.”

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Giving account, he said a total of 142,677 seizures of different items were intercepted even as he vowed never to relent in making the environment tough for smugglers.

His words: “In the period, the unit intercepted and seized a total of 142,677 different items. 41,652 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice from Idiroko, Ipokia, Imeko, Iseyin, Igbo-Ora and Seme; 1,356 bags of 25kg smuggled parboiled rice; 4,529kg of Indian hemp smuggled from Ghana to Islington worth N710million.

“Others are 66 packs of Tramadol and other unregistered pharmaceutical products, 5,849 cartons of fake drugs, 266 units of means of conveyance and 218 used vehicles.

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“Also intercepted are, 1,660 bales of textiles materials; 2,152 kegs of 25kg vegetable oil falsely declared at the other at the seaport of Apapa and Tin-Can Island port and 6,985 cartons of frozen poultry products, and 985 kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) were seized.

“The CAC who said his team arrested 44 suspected smugglers stated that hard times await the economic saboteurs”.

He added: “We arrested 44 suspects in connection with the seizures. We will continue to re-strategize to ensure that smugglers don’t have a hiding place. Instead of incurring losses, I will advise smugglers to embrace legitimate business and become responsible citizens.”

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Meanwhile, the Customs Area Controller of Oyo/Osun Command of NCS, Adamu Abdulkadir, said the command generated N4,896 billion in January 2021.

Abdulkadir said the command had fashioned out new strategy code-named, “Operation Fish Out,” to nip in the bud, the nefarious activities of smugglers in the area.

He warned that the command would track, apprehend and prosecute, in accordance with section 77 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), those who are aiding smugglers by revealing the actions of its men to them.

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He said between November 19, 2020, and January 31, 2021, the command made series of detentions and seizures amounting to a total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N393,420,494.

The Controller disclosed further that the Command succeeded in sniffing out 20Kg of Cannabis Sitiva packed in a 20Kg bag with duty paid value of N4,526,063, stating that the drugs will be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for further action.

Other seizures, he said, include 3,052 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 8 kegs of 25ltrs of each of vegetable oil, 60 bales of second-hand clothing (Okrika), 264 pieces of used tyres, 8 units of Toyota Camry (2020 models), 1 used Toyota Highlander (2019 model) and 10 units of motorcycles used as a means of conveyance for snuggling of rice.

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