Customs strike force intercepts 11 trucks of foreign rice
.Seizes contraband items worth billions of naira
By Udeme Clement
The Strike Force Unit of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has seized 11 trucks loaded with smuggled foreign rice in the South West.
It could be recalled that the Strike Force is an Ad-hoc Unit set up by the Comptroller-General of Customs, CGC, Ali Hameed, to complement the activities of border Commands, in order to suppress smuggling in the country.
The special Unit had in the last three months intercepted contraband items smuggled into Nigeria through neighbouring countries, worth billions of naira.
However, on the recent seizure, the Service also intercepted other prohibited goods worth over NN415million.
The other seizures include vegetable oil, second hand clothing, cartons of frozen poultry products, unprocessed wood, sugar and vehicles of different brands smuggled into the country through land borders.
Speaking to newsmen at the sidelines of the arrest, the National Coordinator of the Strike Force, Abdullahi Kirawa, disclosed that the seizures were made by the team from August 11, to September 18, 2018.
He also disclosed that the seizures were based on credible intelligence gathered by the Customs Intelligent Units, CIU.
Giving the breakdown of the seized items, he said, “The items include secondhand clothing of 640 bales and shoes in 40ft container, worth over N32,000.000; 18×20 and 3×40 containers of unprocessed wood worth N144,000.000; 2×20 containers of wet blue worth N123,727,500; 59bags of sugar (50Kg), worth N590,000”.
He stated further that seven means of conveyance seized were four cars worth N6,000,000, two trucks worth N6,000,000 and one M/Ben Bus worth N1,500,000. Others include 45 cartons of poultry products worth N225,000; vegetable oil in 26 kegs (10litres) worth N130,000 and 14 kegs (25litres) worth N140,000”.
He pointed out, “The vehicles seized were Mazda 323 cars worth N750,000; Toyota Hilux worth N11,500,000;Toyota Avensis worth N1,800,000; Lexus ES 350 worth N2,500,000, Toyota Avenza worth N5,500,000; Ford Transit Bus loaded with contraband goods worth N1,750,000 and 6,669 bags of rice (50Kg) worth N90,000,000”.
He warned that rice being smuggled into the country is less nutritious when compared to locally produced rice. He urged Nigerians to patronise locally made products.
He added that NCS and its men are also not relenting especially in the ember months, saying that the Service is working tirelessly to ensure that illicit trade does not thrive in the country.
In order to tackle smuggling activities around the borders, he said, NCS formed synergy with sister agencies like Nigerian Army, Navy, Police and other security agencies.
He said, “We do not only work with sister agencies but also with the host communities at the borders. The Public Relations Unit of the Service has also engaged in vigorous campaign in public sensitisation on the dangers of smuggling to the nation’s economy.
“So, we are not only ensuring that we make arrest but also being proactive in enlightening the public on the hazards of smuggling, so that they would give us useful information to track the culprits.”