Customs arrests two suspects for alleged murder of officers
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), yesterday, said it has impounded 907 kilogrammes wraps of Indian hemp (Cannabis sativa), cartons of expired Chinese drinks and kegs of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at 25 litres each, meant to be smuggled to neighbouring countries, thereby creating artificial fuel scarcity in the country and other contraband goods worth N2.8 billion in six weeks.
Acting Controller of the unit, Hussein Ejibunu, while showcasing the seized items to newsmen in Lagos, said other recovered items, include, 13,342 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice, 3,696 pieces and 175 sacks of used shoes labelled in the Chinese language, 285 cartons of Basmati rice, 464 cartons of Tomato paste, 694 bales of secondhand clothing, 1,224 cartons of frozen poultry products and 177 kegs of 25 litres packed vegetable oil.
Others are 5,413 cartons of medicaments without the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) certification numbers, 148 pieces of the used compressor, 231 pieces of used tyres, 56 units of used fridges, 28 units of used motorcycles, 2x40ft containers of charcoal meant for export, 5x20ft containers of rough and semi-processed wood meant for export, which causes deforestation in Nigeria and 59 vehicles used as means of conveyance, among others.
Ejibunu said 41 suspects were arrested in connection to the seized items, adding that 23 of them were granted administrative bail, while 18 are still in custody.
He also added that the unit has arrested two prime suspects in connection to the killing of the Customs’ driver and officers, warning that smugglers will no longer kill any of its officers and get away with it.
He said the seizures are in contravention of the relevant extant laws under Schedule 4 of the Common External Tariff, which covers the Absolute Prohibition List of goods by importation in which secondhand clothing falls on Item 17.
Ejibunu noted that under Schedule 3, which is Revised Import Prohibition List, used tyre falls under Item 16, frozen poultry product falls on Item 1, Vegetable Oil on Item 4 and unprocessed wood for export falls under Schedule 6, Item 4.
According to him, for any contravention of the extant laws, Customs officers are empowered to seize under Sections 46 and 64 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), while Section 47 empowers Customs officers to prosecute offenders and if sentenced, they will be given five years in jail without the option of fine.
Ejibunu, however, added that, while smugglers keep devising new tactics to beat Customs operatives, including readiness to eliminate officers, the unit would not be deterred by their antics.
He said: “ Today, lots more have been intercepted and seized. This period of the year usually has the tradition of springing high-level smuggling activities all over the country with particular reference to the South West Zone that I superintend. Being very much aware of the foregoing known facts, this Unit proactively marshaled out strategies to put the activities of smugglers in check.
“The application of these strategies, which for security reasons are not to be made public, provoked the avalanche of seizures to be showcased today.”