By Innocent OROK
The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Lagos has recorded a total of N8,214,486,072.75 as value of seized goods and recovered revenue respectively from January to June 2018.
This was contain in a Press Release sent to our Correspondent by the Unit’s Public Relations Officer, Jerome Attah.
According to the statement the Unit’s has strengthened its anti-smuggling operations and intercepted various contraband with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N8,214,486,072.75 from January-June 2018.
Out of the amount, the Unit through its interventions recovered N405,217,909 from Duty Payments and Demand Notices on vehicles and general goods that tried cut corners from the Seaports, Airports and Border stations through wrong classifications, transfer of value, and shortchange in duty payment that are meant for the coffers of Federal Government of Nigeria.
Within the period under review, 107 suspects were arrested in connection with 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).
Others are 8,987 cartons of 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, 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 the Unit from the Comptroller-General of Customs Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his management team.
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, also commended the Unit during their inspection of the seized items . They also make necessary recommendation to its headquarters.
The Minister commended the FOU A for that great seizure, while 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 was valued at N2,739,191,400.00, with two Chinese nationals as suspects
In his words the Customs Controller of the FOU, A, Comptroller Mohammed Uba said “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 Creeks, Waterside, and at various locations in the southwest zone and hence the reason for the massive rice seizures 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 Uba reiterated that even though smuggling is a global phenomenon that cannot be eradicated entirely, he invites all hands to be on deck so that it could be reduced to its barest minimum. He commended the Officers and Men of the Unit 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 creeks. 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 the media for their partnership in sensitizing and educating the general public on the evil of smuggling to the nations economy.
He further thanked other sister agencies that are always on ground giving the Customs the necessary operational supports, 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.
Continuing he further charged his Officers and Men to be professional and diligent in performing their statutory responsibilities; most especially in the area of anti-smuggling operations by making sure all revenue linkages are blocked and encouraged them to keep thwarting the antics of those dare devil smugglers who used different methods for smuggling.