Deputy Comptroller U.B Yahaya in company of top officers of the unit displays some of the seized Indian Hemp.

The Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Lagos of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted contraband goods with a duty paid value of N3.1billion, which comprise a total of 549 cartons of Tramadol, 42 drums of Carbide explosives, 20,538 bags of foreign parboiled rice and 3,106 cartons of frozen poultry between February 9 and April 19, 2021.

Also seized within the review period were 1,488 25-litre kegs of Motor Spirit PMS, 1,035 bales of secondhand clothing, 77 cartons of tin tomatoes, 2,843.6 kg of Indian Hemp, 877 bundles of printed wax/textile materials, 29 different brands of used vehicles, 2,969 cartons of Eva soap and 12 units of used motorcycles; all with a DPV of N 3.1billion.

The unit also realised a total of N242.3million arising from interventions that led to the issuance of Demand Notices DN on underpayments and under-declared imported consignments within the review period.

It was however gathered that a total of nine suspects have been arrested in connection with the seizures, out of which seven have been granted administrative bail while two are being prosecuted at various courts.

Acting Controller of the unit, Deputy Comptroller U.B Yahaya, who spoke in Lagos, noted that the seizure of this quantum of contraband goods within a space of two months was an indication that the smugglers are unrelenting on their economic sabotage and promised that the unit will leave no stone unturned in smoking them out.

He cited section 158 of Customs and Excise Management Act CAP C45 LFN 2004 as amended, which empowers the unit to patrol and search everywhere without restrictions while section 147 of the same CEMA empowers it to enter into any premises without search warrant, provided there is credible information on prohibited items deposited therein for it to strike.

According to him, the power to seize and prosecute suspects is also embedded in sections 46 and 47 respectively of the act, adding that “offenders are liable to prosecution without option of fine”.

“From February 9, 2021, till date, several seizures were made including eighty (80) means of conveyance. This is simply a pointer to the fact that smugglers are unrelenting and adamant in complying with the extant laws on international trade.

“It is important to note that, importation of items such as foreign frozen poultry products, secondhand clothing, spaghetti, toothpicks, used vehicles and rice across land the borders, and many more remains banned.

“Everyone should be worried about smuggling because it begets unemployment, drug addiction, criminality, proliferation of light and small arms, substandard goods, and so on. Just like crime fighting which is the responsibility of everyone and not only security agents, the same applies to smuggling. You can imagine what would have happened if 42 drums of Carbide explosives had entered wrong hands.

“We need everybody’s continued cooperation by providing credible information to continue to hold sway in the fight against smuggling”, the acting Controller also said.