In the first half of this year, that is January to June 2018, the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Lagos has intercepted various contraband with a duty paid value (DPV) of Eight Billion, Two Hundred and Fourteen Million, Four Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand, Seventy Two Naira, Seventy Five Kobo only (8,214,486,072.75). This figure was contained in a statement made available to Transport Day by the unit’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jerry Attah.
The statement added that “similarly, the unit through its interventions recovered N405,217,909.00 from duty payments and demand notices on vehicles and general goods that tried to cut corners from seaports, airport and border stations through wrong classification, transfer of value, and short-change in duty payment that are meant for the coffers of Federal Government of Nigeria, making a cumulative of N8,619,703,982.00.
“In the Months under review, 107 suspects were arrested in connection to 596 different seizures comprising 34,652 foreign parboiled rice (equivalent to 58 trailers); 167 units of exotic vehicles (Toyota Prado/Lexus; bullet proof), Toyota C-HR , Toyota Camry LE, Toyota Prado(s), Toyota Hilux, Ford F150, Pajero Jeeps, Mercedes Benz ranging from 2015-2018 models respectively); 8,987 cartons frozen poultry products, 4,586 jerrycans of vegetable oil, 3,463 cartons of different pharmaceutical/medicaments, 370 parcels/98 sacks of Indian hemp weighing 1,350kg, and various general merchandise.
“Remarkably among the seizures within this period, was the interception of 460 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 12, 264 kg and 218 elephant tusks, making it the highest seizure of such endangered species in the history of Federal Operations Unit Zone A. This seizure among others brought a lot of accolades to us from the Comptroller-General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his management team.
“To crown it all was the visit by the Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman accompanied by the United Nations charter on CITES delegates led by Mr Juan Carlos who is the Chief Legal Affairs, CITES Headquarters in Geneva, to inspect the seized items and make necessary recommendation to its headquarters. The Minister commended the FOU A for that great seizure. The UN delegates also promised their support to provide necessary trainings towards combatting such illicit trade on endangered species, so that such harmless animals don’t go into extinction. The seized pangolin and elephant tusk alone is valued at N2,739,191,400.00, with two Chinese national as suspects”.
The unit added that “in order to ensure full implementation of the government policy banning the importation of rice through land borders, we re-strategized our operational modalities and beam our searchlight at the Creek, Water side, and at various locations in southwest zone and hence the reason for the massive rice seizure within the months under review. We will continue to make sure smugglers within our areas of jurisdiction count their losses until they repent from sabotaging our economy” Comptroller Mohammed Uba said.
Comptroller Mohammed reiterated that even though smuggling is a global phenomenon that cannot be eradicated entirely, invites all hands to be on deck so that it could be reduced to its barest minimum. He commended the officers/men who have put their lives on the line making these seizures; most especially the over 58 trailers load of rice knowing fully well it’s a big battle at the creek. He equally commended their resilience and doggedness that brought about this feat.
The Comptroller opined that “this feat couldn’t have been possible without the logistics support of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and the entire management, as well as you the media for your partnership in sensitizing and educating the general public on the evil of smuggling to the nations economy. He further thanked our sister agencies that are always on ground giving us the necessary operational support, most especially the Nigeria Army, Police, DSS among others and look forward to sustaining such relationship that will yield better performance in the remaining half of the year”.