A Rage Against Smugglers at Waterways, Creeks
Western Marine Customs records N26.9million seizures
.Says no going back on 24 hours surveillance in creeks
By Udeme Clement
The Western Maritime Command ,WMC, of Nigeria Customs Service ,NCS, has recorded massive seizures of prohibited items smuggled into the country through the waterways and creeks, estimated at a total Duty Paid Value ,DPV, of over N26.9million, in the first quarter of 2018.
The Customs Area Controller ,CAC, of the Command, Comptroller Sarkin-Kebbi M. M. disclosed this through the Public Relations Officer ,PRO, of WMC, Mr. Emmanuel Tangwa, stressed that the Command has stepped up patrol surveillance within its area of coverage to curtail illicit trade.
He added, “These new strategies have resulted in tremendous improvement in the Command’s anti-smuggling operations. As such, a total of seven seizures of various prohibited items have been recorded in 2018.
He went on, “The seizures include second-hand clothings, Premium Motor Spirit ,PMS, commonly known as petrol, vegetable oil, foreign rice and frozen poultry products with a total Duty Paid Value ,DPV, of N26.9million. The analysis shows that the Command within the period under review seized 195 bales of secondhand cothings with DPV of N16.3million, gallons of petrol with DPV of N2million, 170 gallons of vegetable oil and sugar with DPV of N2.3million, 100 bags of foreign rice with DPV of N1.2million, another 170 bags of rice with DPV of N2.1million, smuggled poultry products estimated at the monetary value of N324.000, another 200 bags of rice with DPV of N2.4million, making a cumulative of N26.9million”.
Moreso, since he took over as the helmsman, Comptroller Sarkin-Kebbi continues to introduce new strategies aimed at strengthening the operational capacity of the Command. On several press briefings, the CAC warned smugglers to engage in legitimate businesses, as the Command will not relent on its fight against smuggling, which he described as economic sabotage to government’s effort in diversifying the economy.
Financial Business learnt that seizures, which were daily occurrence have reduced drastically, following constant surveillance on the creeks by operatives of WMC. Also, the CAC with his wealth of experience in enforcement activities has been able to reposition the operational network of WMC for greater efficiency. He also created different patrol teams code known as, ‘Operation total blockage and CAC HQ Surveillance team that patrol the waterways, combing the beaches on 24 hours routine.
Accordingly, the WMC is saddled with the statutory functions of suppressing smuggling activities and enforcement of other extant laws that the Service assigns to it from time to time. Its operational area covers the whole of South Western axis of Nigeria and extends to the North Western region of the country. The out-station under WMC are located at Idiroko, Ijora, several creeks in Badagry, Yekeme, Bar Beach, Igbokoda and Yauri in Kebbi State.
The CAC further explained, “Greater emphasis by the Comptroller General of Customs ,CGC, Hameed Ali, on the need to tackle smuggling coupled with renewed zeal by WMC is paying off, as reflected in reduction of smuggling along western marine axis of the waterways”.
He continued, “We are calling on the media to give true reportage on activities of WMC. Other stakeholders in the maritime industry should partner with the Command in providing useful information in the fight against unrepentant smugglers. We are not going to abdicate our duties and we are warning smugglers to desist from illicit trade, as seizures will continue to take place, as long as smugglers continue to use all kinds of methods in bringing in prohibited items through the creeks”.
He warned, “We don’t negotiate with smugglers. The dearth of operational tools at the Command will not deter us from doing our best. The officers and men of WMC are ever ready to sustain the battle against nefarious activities of smugglers within our area of jurisdiction”.