National security: Customs in Owerri rattle smugglers
Intercepts 5,200 Live Ammunition, contraband worth N386million
Arrests 3 suspects
By Udeme Clement
The operatives of Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘C’ Owerri have demonstrated superior strength in anti-smuggling drive, as they rattled the dare-devil smugglers and intercepted 5,200 live ammunitions (cartridges of 30GR 70mm Calibre )
The operatives under the supervision of Comptroller Yusuf Lawal Psc(+), as the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of the Unit displayed doggedness and intelligence in uncovering the ammunition, even as they seized contraband with a duty paid value (DPV) of over N378.7million between November 23rd and December 27th 2020.
In the same vein, the Unit through its interventions recovered more than N7.5million from Demand Notices (DN), on general goods that tried to cut corners from seaports in the guise of false declaration, transfer of value, and shortchange in duty payment meant for the coffers of Federal Government, making a cumulative sum of N386.3million within the month under review.
Obviously, the figures above reflect a remarkable feat by Comptroller Lawal Psc(+) and his men.
Addressing Journalists in Owerri Imo State Capital, the CAC expressed concerns over the trends in arms and ammunition smuggling in recent times, making reference to the interception in Lagos in 2017, kwara in 2018 and just recently in Kebbi using different routes and now the interception of 5,200 live ammunition cartridges (30GR 70mm Calibre) on the 13th of December 2020.
He revealed that the seized items were concealed with other goods and household items in a passenger vehicle- Toyota Sienna with registration number: DKA 237 DW, but his officers intercepted the ammunition along Nwezenyi Ikom Road Cross River, based on credible and timely intelligence.
He added “Only God knows what would have happened if these cartridges had gotten to its destination unchecked, considering the fragile security of the Nation: from Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, banditry to insurgency”.
Comptroller Yusuf stated that the seized ammunitions fall under schedule 4 of the Common External Tariff, which its importation is absolutely prohibited.
Other seized items include 1,215 bags of foreign parboiled rice 50kg each mostly concealed in bags of beans, maize and groundnut seeds all with the aim of deceiving our officers, 38 Jumbo bales of used clothings, 204 cartons of imported tomatoes and four used exotic vehicles including one new bullet proof Toyota Landcruiser 2019 model (without end-user certificate), two Toyota Hilux 2016 and 2015 respectively, one Mercedes Benz ML350 2015, and other controlled pharmaceutical products at various locations.
Three suspects were arrested in connection to different seizures.
Comptroller Yusuf Lawal attributed this achievement to the leadership style of the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and the entire Management Team of the Nigeria Customs Service for their efforts in recognizing hard work, dedication and commitment. “Without the Management motivation and necessary logistics support, we won’t have attained this feat within this short period”.
Similarly, Comptroller Yusuf while commended the commitment, doggedness and diligence of Officers and Men of FOU ‘C’ for thwarting the antics of some dare devil smugglers/economic saboteurs who used different methods to deceive the Service, further charged his officers to be professional and diligent in performing their statutory responsibilities in the year 2021.
“We have what it takes to do more in this new year of 2021. Consequently, Let me use this special privilege to call on the general public and you the members of the forth estate of the realm to join the Nigeria Customs Service in the advocacy campaign against the danger of smuggling to the Nation’s Economy”
For the umpteenth time, he warned all economic saboteurs seeing the new year as a peak period for their nefarious acts to desist from such illegal business as the unit has devised other preemptive strategies that will make them run for their monies and count their losses.