Over 11,000 bags of imported 50kg parboiled rice have been seized by anti-smuggling officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) attached to the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone ‘A’, Lagos.
The 11,264 bags of illegally imported 50kg Foreign parboiled Rice was valued at N56,320,000.00 with a Payable Duty of N39,424,000.00 and a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N95,744,000.00 .
The contraband items were seized in the wee hours of Tuesday in the remote jungle of Igbesa creek in Lusada area of Ogun State, where daring smugglers created an improvised warehouse used to store illegally imported items before taking them to the market.
According to FOU’s spokesman, Uche Ejesieme, the seizure remains the highest recorded in a singular operation in the history of the anti-smuggling unit.
He added that the Controller of the unit, Turaki Usman, and his team comprising the Deputy Comptroller in charge of Enforcement, Orobiyi Felix, other senior officers and men of the unit got wind of the illegal warehouse via high level intelligence.
“We immediately swung into action and that led to the huge seizure,” he said.
Ejesieme further explained that the volatile nature of the area made officials of the FOU to seek the assistance of neigbouring commands from Seme, Idiroko and other security agencies including the Nigerian Navy, Army and Civil Defense Corps to provide the needed support before storming the place to evacuate the contraband items.
Ejesieme quoted the controller as saying that “our men are everywhere within our jurisdiction. No hiding place for smugglers. They should either quit this illegitimate trade or face the full wrath of the law. We’re here to discharge our duties and promote legitimate trade,” he said.
He stated that the Seizure was effected by Lagos Roving Team Operations headed by AC Adamu Abubakar Mohammed, comprising other officers/men of the Unit.
Prior to this interception, the Controller confirmed that they relied on intelligence report which posited that smugglers were planning to use the creeks to bring in large quantities of Rice from Benin Republic.
Sequel to this development, the Controller and the Team Leader fashioned out operational modalities to ensure that there was no leakage of information to the targeted group (smugglers).
“We must place on record that they have attacked Customs Patrol Teams that attempted in the past to stop their nefarious activities. It is therefore not surprising to see the renewed vigour and dexterity of the FOU ‘A’ operations particularly the Lagos Roving Team led by AC Adamu Abubakar Mohammed. The Controller added.
“On arrival at the scene of crime, we started evacuation, even though we faced challenge of unmotorable terrain. On completion of evacuation, we destroyed the instrumentality of crime i.e the wooden boats, their storage facilities, and out board engines etc. This is aimed at frustrating their future attempts” he stated.
“It is actually amazing to understand the naivety of the Baale of the Community who from all indications seem not to know that smuggling is an Economic crime. He told us point blank that smuggling is their only means of survival as the proceeds therefrom are used for developing their community. I was perplexed at that and I want to use this opportunity to urge the media both print and electronic to embark on mass education and sensitization using local dialects to disseminate information on the dangers of smuggling” he noted.
It is instructive to point out that the FOU ‘A’ had to roll out its Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) for these operations in view of the volatile nature of the terrain.”