By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURTâ€”Â Nigerian Customs Service has impounded contraband goods valued at about N350 million in the creeks of Obolo, Cross River State.
Customs Assistant Comptroller General, Mohammed Othman, of the Eastern Command, who briefed the pressÂ in Port Harcourt on the development, said it was the biggest seizure by the Customs in recent times.
According to him, the seizure, which came in 16Â trailers was made possible because of the presidential amnesty for repentant militants in the region, which has made the waterways calm for Customs to patrol
Regretting that the smugglers could not be arrested because they fled on sighting his men, Othman said it was very likely the contraband was coming from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
He said the Customs also in November impounded contraband worth about N300 million at Oron and stocked them at the Federal Government warehouse at Onne, Port Harcourt.
â€œSeizures of this volume clearly show that the Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko Inde, through improved welfare and equipment, is yielding positive results.
â€œI commend the officers and men that effected the seizure and restate the determination of the management to reward hard work and honesty. This will not go unnoticed,â€ he said.
â€œWhat is very instructive about this seizure is that even though suppression of smuggling is the statutory duty of the NCS, collaboration with stakeholders makes us more effective.
â€œFrom information received through good Nigerians , support from the youth in that community and the Nigerian Police in escorting these goods to government warehouse, it is clear that strategic partnership can rid the country of criminals who do not wish us wellâ€
He assured that men of the Command, who undertook the operation, would be well rewarded.
Leader of the operation, Mr. Hassan Abdulkarim, gave a pictorial view of Obollo creek, saying it was a difficult terrain with about 50 creeks.
He said they had to maneuver their way through the creeks for two days to be able to track the contraband goods.