December 8, 2023

Maritime Today Online

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Customs FOU ‘A’ arrests 23, seizes N767m smuggled items

Rice tops list of seized goods as Customs FOU impounds contraband worth N13.9bn in 2022

Acting Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone 'A', Hussein Ejibunu


….As Ejibunu condemns killing of officer

Operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service have seized smuggled items worth N767.6million with 23 persons arrested in connection with the seizures in the month of March 2022.

Acting Controller of the unit, DC Hussein Kehinde Ejibunu who disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos on Wednesday where he displayed the seizures and suspects said the unit also collected N89.3milliom as revenue within the period.

While frowning at smugglers’ recalcitrant behaviour to always engage in illegalities, the Controller said operatives of the unit will always be unrelenting in its 24- hour patrols to intercept any means of conveyance of smuggled items and arrests suspects involved in the act

He added that the fight against smuggling will always be reinvigorated to sustain the tempo of economic protection and prevention of dangerous goods from entering the country through any entry point in the South West.

The Customs boss condemned the gruesome killing of Inspector of Customs A. Onwegbuzie by suspected smugglers in Ogun State while discharging his official duties saying that the long arm of the law will catch up with the murderers who dumped the officer’s body in a pit.

Meanwhile, the unit has also declared an onslaught against illegal bunkering activities which is evident in the seizure of petroleum products by a designated team against it.

Smugglers, according to Ejibunu will always face stiff confrontation as the unit will never be deterred by the attacks and recent killing of his officer in the line of duty.

“The  fight  against  smuggling  is  becoming  more  and  more  intense  and  fierce  due  to increased  level  of  crime.  Smugglers are more determined than ever before to confront officers on patrol even unprovoked.

“This  new  wave  of  daring  attitude  of smugglers  has  claimed  the  lives  of  many  officers;  the  latest  being  the  hacking  to death  with  machete  of  Inspector  of  Customs  Onwegbuzie  A.  along  Senator  Road, Ilaro  axis of  Ogun  State  after  making  a  seizure  on  Wednesday  2nd  March,  2022.

“The officer  was  not  only  gruesomely  murdered  but  his  body  was  dumped  in  a deep  pit.  Interestingly, newspapers were not  awash  with  the  report  of  the incident.  Were  it  the  other  way  round,  there  would  have  been  noise  everywhere.

“Nevertheless,  with  the  timely  arrival  of  other  patrol  teams,  three   arrests  were made  in  connection  with  the  murder,  78  bags  of  smuggled  parboiled  rice  at  50kg each  and  six   motorcycles  were  equally seized.

“On  Wednesday  9th  March,  2022,  a  patrol  team  uncovered  several  rice  barns  in  a thick  bush  behind  Dangote  Cement  Factory  in  Ogun  State.  The discovery, which was  made  in  the  night,  triggered  gunshots  from  smugglers  directed  at  officers. Officers  never  bulged  and  in  the  morning,  evacuated  845  bags  of  foreign parboiled  rice  to  the  station.

“Another  attack  took  place  on  Wednesday  16th March,  2022,  along  Oyan-Oni-Chain,  Idere  at  Ibarapa  area  of  Oyo  State  after making a seizure  of  105  bags  of  foreign  parboiled  rice  at  50kg  each.  During  that attack  which  was  repelled,  a  fleeing  smuggler  dropped  his  locally  made  pump action  rifle  with  four  cartridges which  the  team  brought  to the  station.

“In  the  same  vein,  a  team  that  intercepted  two  Toyota  Camry  vehicles  laden with  86  bags  of  smuggled  parboiled  rice  at  50kg  each  along  Owode/Idiroko  road of  Ogun  State  was  again  attacked  by  smugglers.

“The  team  not  only  secured  the seizure  but  it  also  repelled  the  attackers  during  which  one  was  shot  in  the  leg  and arrested  alongside  his  dane  gun  and  one  cutlass.  The  suspect  is currently receiving treatment, but  under  guard.  You  can  now  see  the  number  of  attacks  just for the  month  of  March,  2022,  alone.

“The  situation  we  have  on  our  hands  requires  all  hands  to  be  on  deck.  It  therefore behoves  on  all  of  us  to  fight  this  common  and  dangerous  enemy  called  smuggling” the Acting Controller said.

He also called on members of the public to share credible information with the service that could forestall smuggling activities and lead to arrest of more smugglers.

A breakdown of the seizures include 6,747  bags  of  foreign  parboiled  rice  at  50kg  each  equivalent  to  eleven  (11) trailers load; 68,225  litres  of  Premium  Motor  Spirit  (PMS)  equivalent  to  more  than  two (2)  tankers; 2,150  cartons of frozen  poultry  products, and 526 bales  of  second-hand  clothing; 447 parcels  (2,056kg)  of  Cannabis sativa  (Indian  hemp); 927 pieces  of  used  pneumatic  tyres; and 781 pieces  of  used  compressors.

Others are 256 pieces  of  imported  vegetable  oil  at  5  litres  each; 825 cartons and  108 pieces  of  Tin  tomatoes; 34 units of  used  motorcycles; 1,950  pairs  of  used  shoes; 662 cartons of wine; 20 cartons and 164  bottles  of  unregistered  drugs; 13 fairly used  vehicles  smuggled  across  land  borders; 59 sacks of  used  bags; and 17 sacks of  used  shoes.

The Customs boss said five of the arrested suspects were granted administrative bail while 18 others are at various stages of investigation ahead of likely prosecution.


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