Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali Rtd. has given a vivid description of how officers and men of the service intercepted and seized a total of 54 containers of parboiled rice, illicit drugs including tramadol and other prohibited items worth a total of N2.7billion at the Tin Can Island Command, Lagos of the service.

The 54 containers consisting of 15 units of 40-foot containers and 39 pieces of 20-foot containers with a Duty Paid Value DPV of N2.7billion include 33 containers of expired rice, another container of rice concealed with spare parts, 11 containers of unregistered pharmaceutical products, two containers of used tyres, one container of used clothing materials and four containers of refined vegetable oil contained in retail packs.

The CG, who briefed newsmen on the seizures in Lagos, Tuesday, said that the items, which were part of the offshoots of the closure of the nation’s land borders, contravene sections 46 and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act Cap C45 LFN 2004.

The CG however disclosed that following the closure of the land borders, he gave a specific directive to all the seaport commands to increase their surveillance, saying that many of the illicit consignments, which have been blocked from entering the country through the land borders, might begin to find their ways through the seaports.

He said: “Specifically, we are aware that the partial closure of the land borders has resulted in the diversion of some cargo to our seaports. While we welcome this development, which no doubt will boost our revenue, improve our trade facts and figures and sustain our diversification efforts, we have also recorded a number of seizures of unwholesome products, which otherwise would have been smuggled through the borders.

“Realising that there may be possible backlash to the closure of the borders, I directed all seaport and airport commands to beef up surveillance and intercept any illicit and prohibited consignment for which attempt for their smuggling may be made through these entry points. This decision was made considering that those consignments may have been paid for and the importers will devise entry means to ensure they are delivered to their warehouses in Nigeria.

“One significant finding about this seizure is that all the rice is expired or about to expire. Also remarkable is the seizure of tramadol variants and unregistered performance enhancing drugs among the pharmaceuticals. Recall that in the past, the service raised the alarm and drew the attention of the general public to the fact that most of the imported rice is expired. The service had also in the past highlighted the dangers of the use of tramadol and had similarly seized and kick-started the destruction of over N14billion worth of tramadol recently”, the CG said.

 He also noted that those who imported those dangerous consignments do not wish the country and that the service would stop at nothing in ensuring that they do not succeed with their evil intentions, wondering what would have happened if these large consignments of illicit products were allowed to enter the country.

He therefore commended the officers and men of the command for their alertness and patriotism while a thorough investigation into the importation would be carried out immediately.

The CGC equally commended the command for its high revenue profile, generating N86.74billion from January 2019 to date, which he said was quite exemplary.