The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service said it has seized one unit of pump action rifle, two units of locally made guns, 35 live cartridges, 121,550 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and other items worth N622.4million along Ogun border in the month of September.
The Acting Controller of the Unit, Hussein Ejibunu, who disclosed this in Lagos on Wednesday while briefing journalists on the activities of the unit for the month of September said the unit also seized 1,955 bales of used clothing discovered in an abandoned building around the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex.
Hussein explained that besides economic implications, used clothing can expose users to skin diseases including the deadly Monkeypox, noting that the unit has commenced investigation to know those behind the massive importation.
He said, “This is the highest single seizure of used clothing made by the Service this year, and we have commenced investigation to know those behind this massive importation, and at what entry point these clothes came into the country.
“Used clothing in commercial quantities falls under absolute prohibition. They have been seized and we are on the trail of the smugglers to get them arrested.
“Smuggling of used clothes has economic and health implications on our people. The government in its wisdom wants the local textile industry to enjoy protection and create more jobs for Nigerians from the cotton farms through the textile and garment factories to our markets.
“The very serious health implication of this act of textile smuggling is exposure of users to skin diseases like scabies and fungal diseases which can be transmitted by wearing unwashed second-hand clothes.
“This is coming at a time when the world is wary of monkeypox whose mode of transmission includes clothing. According to a World Health Organization fact-sheet, “Monkeypox” is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.
“Monkeypox virus” is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
“It is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.”
Ejibunu said five suspects have been arrested in connection with some of the seizures, adding that the Federal High Court convicted six people for being in possession of smuggled goods while six civil suits against the Unit were dismissed for lack of merit.
Ejibunu listed other seizures made within the review period to include 7,328 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, 68 cartons of frozen poultry, 37 crates of eggs used to conceal rice, 150 kg parcels of Indian Hemp, 10 pieces of military camouflage bags and six units of used cars.
Speaking on the seized petroleum products, Ejibunu said they have been safely disposed of due to their volatile nature. He advised members of border communities through which petrol is smuggled to report to Customs for timely interception, seizure and arrests.
“These quantities of petroleum products in the hands of smugglers could burn down communities and endanger lives and property in the event of fire.
“We are aware that smugglers’ desperation rises towards the yuletide period. In view of this, we are strategizing ahead of them, not only to seize their wares but also to arrest and make them face prosecution. Presently, there is full deployment of our manpower and logistics to achieve our goals.” he said.
The Customs boss added the unit also recovered the sum of N107.8 through Debit Notes on under payments and under declarations.
Acting Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Hussein Ejibunu, displaying one of the seized locally made guns during a media briefing in Lagos on Wednesday.