By Steve Agbota
Federal Operations Unit Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it seized smuggled goods worth N7.813 billion in the South West in the year 2021.
Briefing newsmen Wednesday in Lagos on the 2021 overview and projection for 2022, Acting Controller of the unit, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, said that the Unit equally generated revenue to the tune of N617.92 million
According to him, the year under review had 116 suspects, while 18 were arraigned, 69 were released on administrative bail, one handed over to NDLEA and 23 in custody presently, adding that the Unit lost four gallant officers during operations in the preceding year.
While giving the breakdown of the seizures, he said between January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, the Unit made the following seizures: 751 pieces of Cartridges, 82,171 bags (135 trailer loads of rice) of foreign parboiled rice and 12,781 kegs at 25 litres each of premium motor spirit (PMS).
“Others are 12,394 cartons of frozen poultry products, 562 units of used vehicles, 312 sacks; 11,992 pairs of used shoes, 1,638 bales; 5,669 pieces of used clothing, 309 units of used fridges, 896 pieces of used compressors, 3,553 kegs of vegetable oil, 3,177 pieces of used tyres, 239 pieces; 568 cartons of Tomato paste, 733 sacks; 3,522.1kg of Indian hemp, 16 containers of unprocessed wood, 43 drums of Carbide, 3,671 cartons of unapproved drugs, 319 cartons of foreign soap, 149 units used motorcycles and many more. The Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the seizures stands at N7.813 billion,” he added.
He said the tail end of 2021 witnessed the re-jigging of the Unit with operational vehicles, gun trucks and Commendation Letters by the Comptroller-General of Customs and his Management to galvanise officers and men to improve on their performance.
“Obviously, the rejigging was the magic wand that shot up the seizure profile of the Unit between September and December 2021. In this New Year, the Unit has discreetly mapped out strategies to vigorously pursue revenue recoveries and ensure we meet or even surpass any target given to us,” he said.
However, he said that all revenue leakages would be blocked as the Customs Intelligent Unit would spread their tentacles to furnish the Unit with credible information regarding concealments, transfer of value, wrong classification and low value.
“Regarding anti-smuggling activities, our focus would be the border areas as we are going to dissipate a lot of energies to intensify patrols and ensure that contraband do not find their way into the country.
“We are not unaware of the fact that election year is just around the corner. It is a period during which illicit importation takes place and certainly, that will not happen.
“Let me at this point warn economic saboteurs and dare-devil smugglers in the Zone to stay clear or be served their waterloos, if they don’t embrace legitimate economic activities. In terms of trade facilitation, the Unit is overtly ready to protect genuine traders,” he stated.