The Federal Operations unit Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it seized 20 drums of calcium carbide- a chemical used in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Ijebu-Ode area of Ogun State.
Addressing journalists at the unit headquarters in Lagos on Tuesday, Acting Controller Hussein Ejibunu said the unit also intercepted 41 pieces of military camouflage bags.
Ejibunu said calcium carbide is highly inflammable and could cause danger to lives and property if not controlled.
According to him, such importation requires approval of the Office of the National Security Adviser where an End User Certificate would be issued to authorize its importation.
“Our strategies are constantly being reworked in our efforts to think ahead of economic saboteurs towards defeating their game of concealment, false declaration, underpayment of duty, and trying to bring in dangerous items like illicit drugs.
“On the seized 20 drums of carbide, it is instructive to emphasize that such importation raises concerns of national security. This is because it is a chemical used in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and could cause danger to life and property.
“Allowing things like this chemical into the society uncontrollably, could create serious security challenges for the country. Carbide is flammable, reactive and can cause explosion hazards when mixed with other chemicals and exposed to water or moisture. It forms flammable acetylene gas that could be used to endanger lives by lawless persons.
“This is aside from other health hazards, the chemical on exposure can irritate the mouth, nose and throat if not properly handled. Inhaling Calcium Carbide can irritate the lungs. Higher exposures may cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs and could lead to an emergency medical situation.
“Its importation is therefore strictly controlled from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).”
He said the unit made seizures worth N579million in the month of August with 10 suspects arrested.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, Ejibunu said they include 5,593 (50kg) bags of foreign parboiled rice equivalent to 9 trailers truck load; 56,725 litres of premium motor spirit; 375 bales of used clothes; 242 parcels of Indian Hemp, 11 used imported cars and 29 motorcycles.
Others are: “1/ 40ft containing flavour seasoning, falsely declared as auto spare parts; 1/ 40ft containing auto interior accessories, falsely declared as filters/pneumatic transmission; 1/40ft containing vegetable oil and foreign parboiled rice, falsely declared as used vehicles.
“1/ 20ft containing 21 pallets of tiles, falsely declared as PVC floor tiles/floor bricks; 1/20ft containing Padi Bitters, falsely declared as olive nuts; 1 x 20ft containing unprocessed wood, falsely declared as aluminum ingots and 1 x 20ft containing bales of used clothes and shoes, with a used fake seal/Dangote Truck.”
He said as part of efforts to prevent loss of government revenue to duty underpayments, undervaluation of imported items and wrong harmonized system (HS) code classification, the unit recovered a total of N46.2million within the review period.
“These seizures are a reflection of our commitment to duty and non-compromise in the discharge of our functions; aimed at protecting the nation’s economy and preventing importation of prohibited and harmful products from entering our markets.
“It is our hope that these seizures, recoveries and arrests would serve as a deterrent to other smugglers and duty evaders. Let me warn again, that the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, will not stop making life unbearable for smugglers. We are already intensifying our efforts to continually seize smuggled items, arrest suspected perpetrators and ensure they face diligent prosecution or hand them over to sister agencies where necessary, as enshrined in our laws and standard operating procedures.
“I want to once again warn that, any attempt to violate the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004, which is our enabling legislation will be met with total resistance on the part of smugglers and duty evaders. Our 24-hour round-the-clock patrols are constantly rejigged for efficiency. Our enforcement capability is supported always by impeccable intelligence resulting in the successes we have recorded so far. Nigerians should be assured that we are not in any way going to relent in the discharge of our functions,” he said.