By Ifeyinwa Obi

IN its relentless effort to battle rice smuggling, the Customs Area Controller of Seme Command, Comptroller Willy Egbudin, has disclosed  that the command  has raised the anti smuggling tempo by increasing the existing patrols and fortifying the approved check points with the deployment of very vigilant officers.

Egbudin was reacting to  inquiries about  the Command’s anti smuggling campaign particularly with reference to rice which has since been banned from being imported into the country through the land borders.

According to him , about  32,796 bags of rice were seized between January and December 2013, adding that this  forms part of the N949,427,160.00 duty paid value of rice seized by the customs nationwide.

“This figure could not have been achieved without our sustained enforcement drive and support of the Comptroller General of Customs, whose zero tolerance for smuggling has been our watchword” he explained.

To ensure full participation of all officers in the yuletide operations when rice smuggling was  on the increase,  the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Ernest Olota in a statement said that the Controller canceled all holidays of the officers. This paid off as we made single seizures of rice worth N12.5million and N7.5million at various times.

“Our close watch also beams on travelers who bring in bags of rice in what can be described as trickles under the pretext that they are meant for personal consumption. Intelligence reveals that such small quantities ranging between 25kg and 50kg per trip are stored in commercial quantity for onward shipment into markets.

Transborder travellers and traders

“We are defying this antic by seizing such small quantities from persons coming into the country with them. This relentless drive has made us unpopular among many trans border  travellers and traders. But our primary interest which is service to the Nigerian state is paramount to our entire workforce.

“Our anti smuggling drive now stretches to various swampy areas where vehicles could not access. In addition to the visible vehicular patrols and proper manning of our approved checkpoints, we have increased foot patrol along the bush paths and raised our level of intelligence gathering for preventing,interdicting and uncompromising arrests of smuggling suspects.

“The Controller has set in motion a system that makes the fight against smuggling more inclusive. By meeting with traditional rulers,community chiefs, youth leaders, sister government organizations and all stakeholders in the border project,smugglers will in no distant time have no hiding place.

“This drive got the blessing of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu who joined in the campaign by urging other traditional rulers to key into this patriotic drive by dissuading their community members from smuggling and any other unlawful activities.

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