Customs FOU Zone A Seizes N2.8 Billion Expired Drinks; Other Prohibited Items

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The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of Nigeria Customs Service has within six weeks 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, cannabis, and other items.

The Unit according to it’s acting Controller also arrested 2 prime suspects who masterminded the attack and killing of 2 customs officers in Ogun State recently.

Acting Controller of the Unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu disclosed to Newsmen today at the Federal Operations Unit Zone’A’ Ikeja Lagos on anti-smuggling activities of the Unit.

Ejibunu stated that his Unit worked on credible intelligence indicating that contraband items were stored in a warehouse where the expired drinks were seized.

In his words: “We made the seizures to prevent unsuspecting Nigerians from consuming the products since they could be sold out during the yuletide period”

The acting Controller further took journalists round the government warehouse of the Unit where he displayed other seized items, which includes: 13,342 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice; 3,696 pieces; 175 sacks of used shoes; 285 cartons of Basmati rice; 464 cartons of tomato paste and 694 bales of secondhand clothing’s,

Others are 5,413 cartons of medicaments without NAFDAC numbers or certification; 907 kilograms of indian hemp (Cannabis sativa); 1,224 cartons of frozen poultry products; 148 pieces of used compressor; 5x20ft containers of wood – rough and semi-processed meant for export, which causes deforestation in Nigeria and 2x40ft containers of charcoal – meant for export.

In addition, the Unit also seized 1,111 kegs of PMS at 25 litres each – meant to be smuggled to neigbhouring countries thereby creating artificial fuel scarcity in Nigeria; 177 kegs of vegetable oil at 25 litres each; 231 pieces of used tyres; 56 units of used fridges; 28 units of used motorcycles 59 vehicles used as means of conveyance.

“Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ made revenue from its intervention and will continually confront smugglers proactively as yuletide approaches” Ejibunu disclosed.

“In the recovery of lost revenues, the revenue generated within the period under review through our interventions is put at N104,377,682.25″

“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 which is under my watch”

“Being very much aware of the foregoing known facts, this Unit proactively marshalled out strategies to put the activities of smugglers in check. The application of these strategies, which for security reasons are not to be made public, provoked the avalanche of seizures showcased today.

“I must unequivocally state that the smugglers themselves keep devising new tactics to beat our 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 of Customs (CGC) – Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his Management Team.

“The tremendous support the Unit has enjoyed and is still enjoying cannot be overemphasized. Just 2 weeks ago, the CGC provided 16 new operational Hilux vehicles for the Unit; a Largesse that has never been enjoyed by the Unit.

It will interest you to know that besides the provision of operational vehicles, the CGC pays very close attention to the “performance by the Unit which has translated into always sending letters of commendation to the unit. Of course, to whom much is given, much is expected. The spirit of officers at the moment is quite high as expressed in the following seizure:

“The aforementioned seizures are informed by sheer contravention of relevant extant laws and for purposes of public enlightenment, the Federal Government has since banned the importation of rice across land borders. Under Schedule 4 of the Common External Tariff which covers Absolute Prohibition List of goods by importation, and secondhand 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 an option of fine” the Acting Controller said

A total of 41 suspects were arrested in connection with the seizures and 23 of them have been granted administrative bail

For the arrested prime suspects in the murder of customs officers between 11th September and 26th of October, 2021, one was arrested on the 11th of November, 2021, while the other was arrested today, 2nd December, 2021.

The import of these arrests, according to the Acting Controller is that smugglers will no longer kill officers and get away with it, no matter how long it will take to get them arrested.