In just two months ago, the Federal Operations Unit zone C under the watch of Kayode Rasheed kolade has proved its mettle, intercepting various ‘big time’ contraband worth more than N2.7 billion .
Briefing news men in Owerri today, the Controller disclosed that most of the seizures include white pangolin scales– the first to be seized by the Unit.
Others are 484 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, 388 sacks of cannabis sativa, CMC cough syrup with codeine as well as three units of Armoured vehicles.
931 jumbo bales (used clothing), unregistered medicaments, tramadol, used pneumatic tyres, 32 jerrycans of 25 litres each of premium motor spirit, all with Duty paid value (DPV) of N2,757,676,390.00.
Remarkably, he said the five sacks of pangolin scales weighing 413 kilograms and the 11.064kg of indian hemp are the highest, if not arguably the first seizure of such endangered species and hard drugs in the history of the Federal Operations Unit, zone C.
According to him, efforts towards combating the illicit trade on endangered species is to ensure that such animals don’t go into extinction.
‘Hence, Nigeria a signatory to CITES ( Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) categorized the scales under absolute prohibition, making its importation or trade illegal globally.
While the predominantly white belly pangolin scales were intercepted along Benin- Lagos expressway, the 398 sacks and 2,308 parcels of Indian hemp were seized at Ewu–Auchi Road and Asaba/ Onitsha expressway respectively ‘
The bales of used clothes in a 2x40ft containers carrying 518 bales and 392 jumbo bales of same used clothes concealed in heavy duty trucks and buses were intercepted along Benin-Okada axis and Umueikaa/Aba Road.
According to him, these seizures underscored the determination of the service to enforce all laws,relating to the importation and exportation of goods into and out of Nigeria, thereby contributing to the economy, security and wellbeing of the country.
He wondered what would happen if these items especially the hard drugs get to their destinations unchecked, considering their security implications.
The controller stated that the interception of these items and other previously related seizures further justify ” why you see our field operatives on surveillance patrol along our highways within our areas of jurisdiction as empowered by sections 158, 149 and 150 of customs and Excise Act CAP LFN 2004 which allows customs officers to patrol freely, search vehicles and persons respectively.
He said that 13 suspects were arrested in connection with some of these infractions, noting that some have however been given administrative bail. He noted that the Unit recovered N61, 467,109.00 for the government through the raising of Demand Notices, making a cumulative N2,819,143,499.00.
Kolade attributed this sterling feat to the leadership style of the Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) and the entire management team of the customs for their efforts in recognising commitment, dedication and hardwork.
‘Without management incentives and necessary logistics support, we wouldn’t have attained this feat within this short period and we hope to achieve more’s
He also commended the prompt intelligence of his officers, the Customs intelligence Unit, Customs police.
He commended their intelligence sharing, resilience and doggedness that brought about this giant stride. ‘You can only agree with me that the fight against smuggling can only be won if all hands are on deck.
He called on members of the fourth estate of the realm to join the service in the Advocacy campaign against the peril of smuggling to the nation’s economy while asking Nigerians to support the service with information that could assist the service to perform their statutory responsibilities in the interest of fatherland.
Kolade warned economic saboteurs who will use this month’s festive period for their nefarious acts to desist from such illegal business as the Unit has devised other tactical strategies that will chase them out of such illegalities, vowing that no amount of distractions will stop the officers from carrying out their statutory responsibilities.
He revealed that on resumption of duty, he held meetings with his sectional heads, team patrol leaders where he unveiled the management mandate bestowed on him which includes, blockage of all revenue leakages, trade facilitation and intensification of anti smuggling operations at various entry points, seaports, land borders and airport within its area of coverage in the south/south and South East zone which he confirmed has yielded result in so short a time.