By Chinonye Anyatonwu.
The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of Nigeria Customs Service has within two months made seizures with duty paid value of 2,826,486,890 which includes 1009 cartons of expired drinks labeled in Chinese language uncovered in a Lagos warehouse.
Briefing newsmen while conducting them round the Customs over stretched warehouse in Ikeja Lagos, Acting Controller of the Unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu revealed that following the tremendous support of the Comptroller General with new vehicles, results were able to achieve.
According to him, at least 13,342 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 285 cartons of basmatic rice, 907 Indian Hemp and 5,413 cartons of pharmaceutical products were impounded.
Others include, foreign poultry products, containers of unprocessed woods and charcoals premium motor spirit and several kegs of vegetable oil
231 pieces of used tyres, fridges, motor cycles 59 vehicles used as means of conveyance , Tomato paste, expired Chinese drinks made the list.
He stated that his Unit worked on credible intelligence which leads total the zeisures.
Compt. Ejibunu said the rough semi processed wood meant for export causes deforestation in the country, while imploring Nigerians to learn how to consume what they produce in place of importation of products which are sub- standard.
In connection with all these seizures, a total of 41 suspects were arrested, 23 of whom were granted administrative bail while 18 are still in customs custody.
” This period of the year usually has the tradition of springing high level smuggling activities all over the country with particular reference to South West zone that I Superintend. Being very much aware of the foregoing known facts, this unit proactively marshaled out strategies to put the activities of smugglers in check. The application of these, which for security reasons are not to be made public, provoked the avalanche of seizures being showcased today”
He said that smugglers have continued to devise new tactics to beat their operatives to it inclusive of readiness to eliminate officers.
“We are never deterred by their antics. We remain committed to the mandate given to us by the Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) and his management “
He said the tremendous support of the CG with the provision of 16 new operational Hilux vehicles for the unit, is a largesse that has never been enjoyed by the unit.
Ejibunu deposed that the spirit of the officers is quite high as expressed in today’s seizure profile.
He said the seizures were informed by sheer contraventions of relevant extant laws and for purpose of public enlightenment, noting that the federal government has since banned the importation of rice across the borders
According to him, under schedule 4 of the common external tariff which covers absolute prohibition list of goods by importation, second hand clothing falls on item 17. Under schedule 3 which is revised import prohibition list, used tyre is under item 16 frozen poultry product is on item 1, vegetable oil on item 4 and unprocessed wood for export falls under schedule 6 item 4
“For any contravention of the extant laws, customs officers are empowered to seize under sections 46 and 64 of CEMA. Section 47 of CEMA also empowers customs officers to prosecute offenders and sentence them to 5 years in jail without option of fine”
He drew the attention of the press to the arrest of 2 prime suspects of the killers of customs officers and driver between September 11 and October 26th.
‘ While one was arrested on November 11, the other one was arrested in tge early hours of today in a juju house where he engaged in concoctions to evade arrest.
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