By Godfrey Bivbere
The Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS has impounded 751 pieces of AAA cartridges (70MM) of live ammunition, wraps (114.5kg) of Cannabis sativa (Indian Hamp), bags of smuggled rice at 50kg each and many other items with a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of N723.3 million in three weeks.
Disclosing this at a press briefing over the weekend, Controller of the Unit, H. K Ejibunu, said the seized items were intercepted at different flash points in the Zone which includes Ado-Odo, Idogo, Sokoto-Ijoun, Ohunbe, Ilaro, Atan and Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange.
He noted that other areas where some of the above goods were seized are Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State, Iseyin, Igboora, Igbeti in Oyo State, Gbaji, Agbara in Ogun State and the creeks.
He listed some of the goods seized to include, 1,419 jerry-cans of vegetable oil, 1,301 bales and 128 sacks of secondhand clothing, 233 bundles of wrapper, 621 bags of smuggled rice at 50kg each and 621 cartons of expired medicaments.
Others in continued are 635 cartons of wine, 1,046 pieces of used tyres, 21 cartons of cutlasses at 60 pieces each, 1,516 cartons of frozen poultry products, 18 motorcycles, 856 jerry cans of 25 litres each of Petroleum Motor Spirit, amongst others as well as 80 means of conveyance.
He noted that smugglers have devised new methods moving their cargoes into the country as well as violent attacks on his officers and men on duty.
“There is a disturbing new trend of smuggling deployed by smugglers and that has to do with massive use of motorcycles to smuggle parboiled rice at 50kg each using bush paths not accessible to vehicles. Cumulative seizure of such means of conveyance is over 100 units in our custody.
“Another challenge that has remained unabated is the issue of ambush attacks of officers unprovoked. Just on Saturday 16th October, 2021, my patrol team ran into a convoy of more than 24 vehicles laden with smuggled rice and they were able to intercept 12 along Abeokuta/Sagamu Interchange.
“As the officers made their way to Lagos, over 300 smugglers and hoodlums had mobilized and attacked the officers with pump-action rifles as well as cutlasses, pebbles and bottles. In the process, the patrol vehicle was riddled with bullets wounds while the windscreen was shattered.
“The aftermath of the attack was the forceful retrieval of 8 of the 12 intercepted vehicles and injuring of 2 officers. You can now see what we face every other day.
“One thing is very certain; we remain undaunted in the pursuit of our mandate no matter the level of attacks on my operations in the field.
“Within the period under review, we had a total of 37 suspects arrested for various offences. Six of the suspects are already charged to Court, 12 on Administrative Bail while 19 are still in our custody either waiting to be charged to Court or be released through Bail.’’