Customs vows to retaliate attacks by smugglers, others
Seizes Goods Worth N723m In Three Weeks
The Acting Controller, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, has warned that the service will retaliate the attacks on its officers by smugglers and other criminals in the South West region of the country.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the unit’s headquarters in Lagos, Ejibunu said Ado-Odo, Idogo, Sokoto-ljoun, Ohunbe, Ilaro, Atan, Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange, ljebu-Ode in Ogun State, Gbaji, Agbara in Ogun State; Iseyin, Igboora and Igbeti in Oyo State, as well as the creeks, especially Ologojo river bordering Benin Republic, had become a den of criminals.
Ejibunu said the unprovoked attacks by smugglers and hoodlums, with the communities aiding their illegal activities, forced the Customs to deploy the rules of engagement as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 195, which mandated officers of the service to defend themselves when attacked.
“It has become a tug of war. Our officers are being attacked and killed by smugglers, and communities cover up for them, saying they are innocent passers-by. Igboora and Ologojo river have become den for smugglers and, if not careful, bandits. Seven Customs officers and eight soldiers were wounded in an operation in that river and since then our officers have not been entering Igboora because that place links many communities.
“These are areas the country needs to focus on to police very seriously. We are not going to accept that again; we are not goats. There is going to be a re-match in that river.
We have the backing of the law to bear arms; and to that extent, we will not hesitate to deploy the rules of engagement in such dangerous circumstances. Parents should warn their wards on the dangers of smuggling,” he stated.
According to the Customs boss, under three weeks, the unit made 28 seizures with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N723 million at different flash points in the South West zone as listed above.
He noted a new disturbing trend deployed by smugglers as the massive use of motorcycles to smuggle parboiled rice through bush paths not accessible to vehicles, adding that about 100 motorcycles had been seized.