The Strike Force Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A, on Thursday, said, it intercepted eight trucks of foreign parboiled rice smuggled into the country.
The seizures were announced by the new South West Zonal Coordinator, Deputy Comptroller Mohammed Sani Yusuf at his maiden press briefing in Lagos.
According to DC Yusuf, the Unit anti smuggling operations is recharged against perpetrators of illegalities while assuring genuine business persons to go about their activities without worries.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, DC Yusuf showed journalists timber in 3 units of 20ft containers worth N177,725,200 ; 1000 units of 50kg bags of rice valued at N43,282,000; 3,143 pieces of used tyres worth N75,432,000 and 320 bales of used clothes worth N33,876,000.
Other seizures includes 663 sacks of shoes worth N37,846,000; 44 sacks of donkey skin valued at N2,425,000 and 137kg of cannabis sativa valued at N13,043,000.
Yusuf said the seizures of donkey skin is to protect endangered species while that of timber is for environmental preservation. He announced the arrest of 2 suspects in connection with some of the seizures while investigations are ongoing.
He said the cannabis will be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in accordance with the law while urging importers and their agents to be acquainted with the law on import and export prohibition.
“I want to reiterate, very sternly that we don’t believe in settling down before executing our our task in a sensitive assignment as this. Smugglers who thought they could take advantage of the recent changes to carry out their unlawful trade were disappointed.
“It is pertinent for me to advise importers, licensed customs agents and freight forwarders to imbibe and always operate on good business etiquette by making sincere declarations all the time. With us on the ground, there will be no hiding place for those wishing to cut corners” Yusuf said.
“They should always acquaint themselves and be guided by policies of the Federal Government and be abreast with the import and export prohibition lists. We will not take ignorance as an excuse under any guise.
“We are working 24 hours from day one and they have us to contend with any time they dare to carry out their illicit activities either at night or in the day. I am happy to declare that our operatives are relentless and uncompromising as far as this task is concerned
“This is just the beginning of heated anti smuggling action which we have embarked upon in the entire South West area of the country.
“We are ready to run smugglers out of town with the full support and encouragement of our CGC, Col Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Rtd. This task is aimed at protecting our national economy and preventing dangerous importation as well as exportation that contradicts the law
“Our patrolling and interdiction capacity is recharged for round the clock operation against smugglers and anyone attempting to circumvent the due process of Import and export” he said
Yusuf said trucks used as means of conveyance of smuggled items would be seized along with the wares
He said this while reacting to a recently seized Dangote cement truck which was seized in Ilaro for rice smuggling
The coordinator who reiterated an earlier directive of Col. Hameed Ali, Comptroller General of Customs that means of conveyance of smuggled items like vehicle be seized , added that such seizures will deter perpetrators of smuggling.
According to him, when their principals or owners of the vehicles get to know that they have been seized for their usage in smuggling activities, the message would be passed.
Aside rice, other items seized by the Strike Force include cannabis sativa, used shoes, wood and donkey skin all valued at N373 Million Naira.