….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.